Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Month: July 2020

Better Kansas – July 30, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we get into changes in food labels, supporting rural communities, pesky squirrels, estimating corn yields and how and why calibrating sprayers is better for a farmer’s bottom line and the environment. 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

IF YOU’RE A LABEL READER YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY NOTICED that improvements have been made to food labels to help us know better what’s in the food we eat. The enhancements start with larger print so we can actually SEE how many calories or fat are in one serving. Heck, we can now SEE how much one serving really is! To read up on some of the other improvements, take a look at this story: Nutrition expert says new food label is a ‘win’ for consumers. Talk about reading labels, I was a little surprised to learn the bag of chopped “salad kit” in my refrigerator was 3-1/2 servings. Wasn’t I supposed to eat it all in one sitting? And who eats 1/2 a serving of salad? At least now I know.

 

HELPING KEEP RURAL KANSAS COMMUNITIES VIBRANT is a goal of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, so it highlights success stories in rural communities. By producing the weekly Kansas Profile blog and the weekly Kansas Profile radio feature (about four minutes), we learn about individuals, businesses and organizations that are making their communities better places to live and work. These reports out of rural communities such as Ottawa, Pomona, Ellinwood and Courtland are a great way to learn about people and groups that are contributing to their regions and making the entire state that much better. They’re an inspiration every week.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW NEIGHBORS MOVED IN BEHIND MY HOUSE and they are SO nervy. They lounge on my patio furniture, help themselves to my food and generally don’t respect my space! OK, the food is for the birds, but still! This pair of squirrels pushed me to look for information on … let’s just say … a relocation. Not great photos, I know, but when I asked these two to come back when the light was better, they scampered off like a couple of excited teenagers to meet up with friends. Notice the leg hanging off the chair. Now that is true relaxation! If you have such critters sharing your space, take a look at Tree Squirrels, which has information about the species of squirrels we have in Kansas, plus links to mini-videos about relocating them. Have to admire their athleticism, if nothing else.

 

AFTER THE PLANTING, GERMINATING AND NO SMALL AMOUNT OF STRESSING about precipitation (or lack of), corn growers can get an idea how their crops will yield and it’s not just guesswork. Once the plants tassel, silk and pollinate, there’s a way farmers can calculate how much corn they’ll be able to harvest. Check out Learn how to estimate corn yield potential in the latest Agronomy eUpdate. I remember using a method much like this years ago on a crop tour. It was all going smoothly until a grain buyer lost our rental car keys … in a corn field…. in the middle of Iowa. Amazingly, after 30 minutes or so, he found them! Those of you who have ever lost ANYTHING that small in a corn field know that it felt like a mini-miracle.

 

WITH PESTICIDE COSTS AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS BEING WHAT THEY ARE, using the correct amount of pesticide on a farm field to manage those yield-robbing weeds and insects is critical. For detailed information about sprayer calibration, including simple equations that can help with the calibrating process, see the fact sheet Calibrating Boom Sprayers. More information about programs, processes and educational opportunities in biological and agricultural engineering is available on the website.

 

 

SEVERAL READERS SENT MESSAGES THAT THE LINK TO THE MORNING GLORY ITEM in last week’s post was problematic, so I’m reposting with a link to the Agronomy eUpdate newsletter it came from in hopes this works better. Fingers crossed!

SURELY NOT! HOW CAN SOMETHING SO BEAUTIFUL BE SO DESTRUCTIVE? I’m talking about morning glories, known to scientists as Ipomoea spp. Their pretty purple, blue, pink or white flowers can be a gardener’s dream, right? But the vining, invasive plants spell trouble for farmers. Once they wind their way through corn, soybean or other farm fields, they can cut the amount of grain farmers harvest and can choke harvest equipment. Take a look at World of Weed: Morning glory for details, including management options.

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 – July 23, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we bring information on back-to-school shopping, rethinking retirement, preserving tomatoes, dividing daylilies, early fall weather outlook and morning glories. 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

BACKPACK, CHECK.

PENCILS, CHECK.

NEW CLOTHES, CHECK.

HAND SANITIZER, ????

IT ALMOST FEELS LIKE NORMAL! ADS ARE POPPING UP EVERYWHERE for school supplies, new clothes and dorm accessories, just like they do every summer before the typical school year. But, a typical year this is not. With recent news from the governor’s office that Kansas kids won’t start school until after Labor Day, you likely have a little more time. That’s good because many are still sorting out whether children will physically go to school, learn online or some variation of both. Because retail sales have been hit hard by COVID-19, some stores may offer even better bargains than usual, according to Back to School Shopping: 2020 Edition. Even though some districts have not unveiled lists of needed school supplies, one suggestion is that you’ll almost certainly need hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, so grab them when you can. For an audio version of the article, click here.

 

BABY BOOMERS HAVE RETIRED IN DROVES THE PAST FEW YEARS and many more are expecting to in the near future. COVID-19-related job losses pushed at least one of my neighbors into retirement a year earlier than she’d planned and she’s not alone. The pandemic likely crimped many peoples’ retirement plans one way or another. Some may have to delay retirement because of lost income. An interesting podcast Rethinking Retirement Plans Post Pandemic includes a discussion on Social Security as well information about When Your Income Drops. Take a listen or read the articles.

 

‘TIS THE SEASON … LAST WEEK I ADDRESSED A CHALLENGE IN GROWING TOMATOES but this week I’m including information on preserving those mainstays of summer.  Take a look at Preserve It Fresh, Preserve It Safe: Tomatoes for information on freezing (yes, you can do that) and canning, plus step-by-step instructions for some of our favorite tomato-based foods, including barbecue sauce. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have wonderful family and friends who grew tomatoes, preserved them and shared them with me. Thank you, Janet, Helen, Cary and everyone else who has been so generous. It’s so appreciated! So, you all … bring on the chili, salsa and spaghetti sauce recipes!

 

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

FOR THOSE OF US WHO’D RATHER BE TENDING OUR PLANTS or doing almost anything outdoors than inside cleaning or working this time of year (I plead GUILTY!), there’s so much to like in the weekly Horticulture Newsletter. This week I was drawn to information on dividing irises, those elegant flowers that grace us year after year with their gorgeous colors. Every three to five years it’s a good idea to divide iris plants to help rejuvenate them and increase flowering and this is the prime time of year to do that. Take a look at the Dividing Iris video and the written section for more, plus information on tree problems, tomatoes, Euonymous scale, and harvesting grapes.

 

WARMER THAN NORMAL WEATHER MAY STAY WITH US THROUGH AUGUST AND linger into fall, according to an early outlook in the Agronomy eUpdate. The latest data (plus great maps) via the Kansas Weather Data Library also indicate we may have below normal precipitation across much of the state in the next few months. That may not bode well for crops … or lawns for that matter … in some already dry areas but could make things easier for fall row crop harvesting and winter wheat planting. Timing is everything! Let’s (always) hope for moisture at the right time.

 

SURELY NOT! HOW CAN SOMETHING SO BEAUTIFUL BE SO DESTRUCTIVE? I’m talking about morning glories, known to scientists as Ipomoea spp. Their pretty purple, blue, pink or white flowers can be a gardener’s dream, right? But the vining, invasive plants spell trouble for farmers. Once they wind their way through corn, soybean or other farm fields, they can cut the amount of grain farmers harvest and can choke harvest equipment. Take a look at World of Weed: Morning glory for details, including management options.

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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 – July 16, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we address some touchy-feely topics – nurturing relationships of all types and lessons learned from this unusual time, plus the challenges of growing tomatoes, resources for cattle producers during the heat of summer and a look at how land is used across the state. It’s a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension has to offer. Share on social media and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

YEARS AGO, A MARRIED FRIEND TOLD ME THAT HE AND HIS SPOUSE occasionally go to counseling for a marriage “tune-up.” It seemed like a good idea for many of us to work on maintaining or improving relationships, whether we’re married, navigating the complex job of raising children (especially teenagers 🙂 or just figuring out how to live as a single person in our own heads. But many of us are reluctant to make that call … go that far. I found resources that might help to start with on the Healthy Families webpage.

 

TALKING ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS, I’VE COME ACROSS REMINDERS THAT ARE INCREDIBLY TIMELY about Better Understanding Your Neighbors. It encourages us to take a hard look at how comfortable we are (or aren’t) with people who are not like us … and why we may think as we do. It reminds that we are most comfortable with what we know, that we may perceive those who are different as somehow wrong, and that if we only encounter people we know on a daily basis, there can be a tendency toward mistrust of those who look and behave differently. I had the honor of meeting Buck O’Neil, the former Kansas City Monarchs baseball player and coach at an event at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum years ago. He gave an impromptu interview for our group and spoke about how despite being turned away from many restaurants and hotels when he and his teammates were on the road, he was not bitter. “No one’s born hating,” he said, adding that people are taught to hate. My encounter with him was incredibly brief, but I’ve never met a more memorable or gracious person.

 

SOMETIMES WE NEED REMINDERS or in my case I’ll call it a reality check. With the coronavirus pandemic, we are in completely unprecedented times for everyone, and I mean EVERYONE. It’s a little unsettling but our elected officials, the medical community, business leaders and educators, none of us has dealt with this before… not on this national and global scale. So I really appreciated the thoughts in Lessons Learned from Leadership During Unprecedented Times, written by the director of the Extension Wildcat District in southeast Kansas. Her day-to-day work brings her into contact with a lot of people across several counties. Take a look. Yes, our patience is being tested and understandably so, but I believe that most people are doing the best they can in the midst of this strange time.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

MANY OF US GROW A FEW TOMATOES EVERY SUMMER, but just as they’re ripening and visions of that favorite sandwich or recipe come to mind …. they crack! What’s that about? Scientists have actually studied this and found that some varieties are more resistant to cracking than others, including Jet Star, a variety that’s been around for a long time. They also found that the pliability of a tomato’s skin rather than its thickness, was a key factor. Take a look at the latest Horticulture Newsletter for information about this, plus when to harvest tomatoes and other horticulture-related topics, including how to pick out a ripe melon. That’s always a challenge!

 

THE HEAT IS ON and just like we do, cattle also struggle with the sweltering weather. To complicate things, abnormally dry to drought conditions are taking hold in a sizable portion of the state. The situation prompted K-State beef cattle specialists to hold a webinar recently that addressed current weather conditions, grazing pressure on pastures, calf age and value, culling cows, forage scenarios and much more. Missed the webinar? The good news is that it was recorded and is available online. Watch the video or view slides for Drought Preparedness for the Cow-Calf Producer. So, yes, the heat is on. And thank you, Glenn Frey for a great song that makes it a little more bearable.

 

TAKE A LOOK AT Agmanager.info to get a visual on how land was used (what the experts call “land cover”) and what crops were grown in each Kansas county last year. The maps were generated by the USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Such interesting contrasts between the area devoted to grassland in Chase County (in the Flint Hills) for instance, and Wichita and Sumner counties where wheat ruled.

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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 – July 9, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we address timely financial topics, support for small businesses, food safety resources, feeding a growing global population, rates for custom farm work and a classic radio broadcast. 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

 

MAYBE YOU CAN IDENTIFY WITH THIS, TOO?!? Apparently some of us are spending more money while socially distancing despite the fact that we’re going out less, according to a “Financially Speaking” blog post.  WalletHub calls it “comfort buying” or shopping as a way to relieve stress or boredom. There’s some odd comfort in knowing that it’s not just me. Anyway, take a look at the post and other Financially Speaking entries, such as managing the financial implications of furloughs, Coronavirus and student loans and other timely topics written by extension agents and specialists across the state. Good stuff. Now I just need to figure out where I’ll wear that dress from Banana Republic. Kind of tough when your car hasn’t left the garage in days. Too dressy for neighborhood walks?

 

SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS DON’T OFTEN HAVE THE LUXURY of traveling to multi-day meetings in expensive hotels for in-depth seminars on how to attract and retain customers. That’s all nice but who will run the store? Who will help with that special order? Enter First Friday e-Calls, which can be accessed online right from your home or business and are designed to bring relevant topics to businesses for free. The program is part of K-State Research and Extension’s commitment to supporting community vitality. Upcoming First Friday e-Call topics and speakers include:

Friday, Aug. 7 – 9:30 a.m.: Deb Brown, Co-Founder, SaveYour.Town, “Growing Your Own Entrepreneurs.”

Friday, Sept. 4 – 9:30 a.m.: Becky McCray, Co-Founder, SaveYour.Town, “Idea Friendly Communities.”

Previous calls have included Creating an Online Sales Presence for your Business; Emergency Programs to Help Small Businesses and Displaced Employees During COVID19; Filling Empty Buildings and more. To register for upcoming e-Calls or to listen to previous sessions, take a look at First Friday e-Calls. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the meeting. Check it out!

 

AREN’T WE ALL JUST A LITTLE WEARY OF COVID-19? Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not done with us. Our understanding of the pandemic and its implications for food safety are evolving, as are the resources on the Food Safety and COVID-19 page. It covers everything from guidance for restaurant re-openings, county fairs, social distancing and much more. Whether you’re a restaurant owner concerned about the health of your employees or a casual shopper (or vendor) at your local farmer’s market, there’s information for you.

 

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

IT’S EASY TO GET BOGGED DOWN IN OUR DAY-TO-DAY SITUATION, but a recent video presentation provides a glimpse of the long view. In “The Global Agricultural Landscape: Feeding more than 9 Billion People,” the head of K-State’s Department of Agricultural Economics shares a two-part presentation available to us online. Globally, we have a population of about 7.8 billion people, but that number is growing and to some extent, in places least able to grow their own food. Listening in to these sessions is like listening in to college classes for free on a topic important to us all, whether you help grow the food or are a consumer like me. No, that tomato plant in the back yard doesn’t count :). Check out The Global Agricultural Landscape: Feeding More Than 9 Billion People: Part 1 and Part 2.

 

THIS JUST IN FOR FARMERS: HAVE YOU WONDERED WHAT YOUR NEIGHBORS (or for that matter, growers on the other side of the state) pay for custom work done on their farms? The results of the 2020 Custom Rates Survey have just been posted. The report shows the average rate paid in different regions of Kansas for such work as grain harvesting, seed cleaning, grain hauling and haying. For comparison purposes, the page also shows the 2018 rates for the same categories. The survey was conducted by K-State’s Land Use Survey program in the Department of Agricultural Economics in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

 

SINCE WE WORK TO SUPPORT AGRICULTURE ACROSS THE STATE, not to mention nationally and globally, I thought I’d throw this into this week’s Better Kansas. Just something I thought worth highlighting. Remember Paul Harvey and his “The Rest of the Story” segments? A friend reminded me recently about the iconic radio broadcaster’s tribute to farmers in “God Made a Farmer” that he wrote more than 40 years ago. Agriculture has changed a lot since then, but much remains the same. Paul Harvey died in 2009 at the age of 90, but his words and that voice live on.

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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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