Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Author: Mary Lou Peter

Better Kansas – Oct. 22, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we touch on the climbing obesity rate in Kansas, drug take back day, making a difference, fall foliage, a resource for feedlots and a competition that has nothing to do with sports. 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, NO! RECENT CDC DATA PUT KANSAS NEAR THE TOP OF THE OBESITY LIST. Not a place we want to be. And the trend is going in the wrong direction. An annual CDC report lists Kansas among 12 states that have topped 35% in the prevalence of obesity in its population. We were just below 35% a year ago. Read the article, Kansas obesity rates top 35% for more information and listen to a Sound Living audio interview with an extension nutrition specialist on the problem and ways to tackle it. The pandemic hasn’t helped. I’ve got to think that when store shelves emptied last spring and we were evaluating what we had in our pantries and freezers, it encouraged some of us to focus on food like we may not have before. Not to mention that again, those of us working from home are 10 paces from our refrigerators. And though many gyms have reopened, there’s an understandable reluctance to go right now.

 

IT’S SHORT NOTICE, BUT SATURDAY, OCT. 24 IS DRUG TAKE BACK DAY. Remember those potent pain pills from surgery five years ago? Or the anti-inflammatory from that bad muscle sprain? Check your medicine cabinet, bathroom drawers and maybe even kitchen cabinets for expired prescription medications that you didn’t finish and safely dispose of them at one of many “takeback” locations across the state. Check the Pollution Prevention Institute’s Prescription Drug Take Back Day page for information on why and where you can safely dispose of those medications, no questions asked. Last year I rounded up several bottles that had migrated to the back of a drawer. One of them was prescribed 10 years ago! Last year, Americans turned in 883,000 pounds of prescription drugs at nearly 6,300 sites operated by the Drug Enforcement Administration and almost 5,000 of its state and local law enforcement partners.

 

SATURDAY IS ALSO “MAKE A DIFFERENCE DAY.” I almost didn’t include this because, again, short notice but decided that really, every day can be “Make a Difference Day.” Doing good things for others and our communities doesn’t have a time limit. Take a look at this Make a Difference article for ideas to consider. I’ll bet you can come up with a lot more. And don’t feel constrained by a date. Any day we help or support others is a good day.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

ONE OF THE SIMPLE JOYS THIS TIME OF YEAR IS TO GO FOR A WALK OR DRIVE AND TAKE IN THE BEAUTIFUL FALL FOLIAGE. It’s like free therapy. But why does fall color in our trees vary from year to year? And why even in our prettiest years, do our colors seem less vibrant than those in New England? A short item in the recent Horticulture Newsletter covers those whys and more. Hint: Weather is just one of several factors. Take a walk. Take it in. I hope it’s as therapeutic for you as it is for me. Truthfully, I’ve never been to New England in the fall peak leaf season. I’m only going from the pictures I’ve seen in magazines and brochures. Surely they haven’t photoshopped those colors?! Also included in the newsletter is planting spring flowering bulbs (hurry), fall garden cleanup, preserving garden tools, and winter care of house plants.

 

CATTLE PRODUCTION AND CATTLE FEEDING ARE BIG BUSINESS IN KANSAS. In fact, recent data from the Kansas Department of Agriculture show the output from beef cattle ranching and farming, including feedlots and dual-purpose ranching was worth $8.7 billion and employed nearly 39,000 people. Cattle feeders and others can keep tabs on such values as the average number of days on feed, average daily gain, harvest weight, dry matter feed conversion, average cost of gain, plus corn and alfalfa hay prices with the Focus on Feedlots newsletter.

 

WE KANSANS CAN BE A BIT COMPETITIVE. Just ask a Wildcat or a Jayhawk … or a Shocker, Gorilla, Hornet, Tiger or Ichabod. But we’re not just talking sports. Farmers can be competitive, too. The annual Kansas Corn Yield Management Contest recognizes farmers who have high corn yields, and improve crop management practices and efficiency for greater sustainability and profitability, plus share helpful data with other farmers. So like sports, this contest encourages participants to constantly improve. But in this case, those of us who rely on corn for feed, food, fuel and manufactured products benefit.

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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 – Oct. 15, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we touch on Medicare counseling, a fire safety activity you can do with children, pumpkins, risk management in agriculture and the 2020 Virtual Swine Day. It’s just a glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Take a look, share on social media and subscribe. – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT HAS BEGUN. If you’d like help sorting through your options from a trained, unbiased counselor who has no ties to an insurance company, check with your local K-State Research and Extension office. Some extension agents are trained SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas) counselors and offer one-on-one help for you or a family member or friend to confidentially sort through your best options with Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance and more. Medicare Open Enrollment for 2021 runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2020. If your county or district extension office doesn’t have a SHICK counselor, there may still be a counselor in your area. Check with the SHICK program, a part of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services’ Commission on Aging, or call 1-800-856-5260.

 

OH, I REALLY LIKE THIS! Take a look at this proactive activity you can do with children to develop a fire escape plan for your house. It’s included in the Suddenly in Charge resources aimed at anyone, including teens and tweens who are helping take care of younger children during the pandemic … or any time. Other resources center on reading, physical activity, community and civic engagement. And if you’re interested in more preparedness topics, check out the Prepare Kansas blog.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WANT LONG-LASTING PUMPKINS ON YOUR FRONT PORCH? Just like the freshness with all fruits and vegetables, it makes a difference when they were harvested. Take a look at the most recent Horticulture Newsletter for tips on choosing a pumpkin that will last awhile, plus carving and roasting pumpkin seeds. This edition also has information on storing summer flower bulbs over the winter (plus a link to a video), native plants in northeast Kansas, cool season vegetable hardiness, tucking your lawnmower in for the winter, why some late season lawn seedings fail, and controlling broadleaf weeds in the lawn in fall.

 

UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER, FLUCTUATING MARKETS AND INTERNATIONAL OCCURENCES beyond our control make farming and ranching a risky, albeit rewarding,  business. And this year with COVID-19, we’ve seen that forces we could never imagine can influence commodity markets and livelihoods. If you’re managing risk in agriculture, check out the Risk Management Strategies newsletter for in-depth information. Yes, there’s a lot of alphabet soup to digest, but the USDA kindly has an online helpful glossary of acronyms. You might want to bookmark it on your computer. It’s REALLY long to print!

 

 

IT’S ALMOST HERE! NOW’S THE TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE 2020 K-STATE VIRTUAL SWINE DAY NOV. 18-19 for updates on the latest K-State nutrition, feed safety and feed processing research. So much good information, including feeding sows before farrowing; preparing for a world without zinc oxide; the future of feed safety research; feed mill biosecurity; and other topics. It’s disappointing to not be able to meet in person, but the virtual format will keep people safe PLUS allows you to participate from wherever you are.

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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 – Oct. 8, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we shine a light 😊on our need for Vitamin D, community activities and resources, making a spending plan for the holidays, peonies, a crop insurance workshop and a cool video of a family farm’s wheat harvest. 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

DO YOU HAVE A “D” PROBLEM? As in Vitamin D? Apparently, many of us do. We get Vitamin D primarily from exposure to the sun. It’s important for bone health and plays a role in our immune systems and our resistance to diabetes. Unlike many other vitamins, there are few ways to get it through foods, unless they’ve been fortified with it. Foods that offer it naturally are certain yeasts and plants, plus oily fish such as mackerel, tuna and salmon. Foods that are sometimes fortified with it are milk, butter, cereals, bread, yogurt and orange juice. Take a look at Vitamin D: From Sunshine to Supplements to learn more. With daylight growing shorter and shorter, this may be the most important time of year to think about how to ensure we’re getting enough of this vital nutrient.

 

A RECENT KANSAS PRIDE NEWSLETTER reminds us of the many things volunteers all over the state are doing to make their communities better places to live, work and play. Blue Rapids is enhancing a park, Hugoton is working to bring its theater back to life and Osawatomie had 30 volunteers come out for a park cleanup. Check out the PRIDE newsletter for information about an Oct. 15 webinar by the Kansas League of Municipalities, upcoming grant writing workshops, funding sources and more.

By the way, though it’s not small or rural, my own hometown is capitalizing on our national love of tacos with the Kansas City, Kansas Taco Trail. What a great way to draw people to businesses in the community! Somehow I missed that Oct. 4 was National Taco Day, according to whomever deems such things so. But then, isn’t every day, taco day?

 

COVID OR NO, ONE THING’S CERTAIN, the holidays will still come. And with those holidays often come expectations. Not that we haven’t already scaled back our ideas of gatherings and gift giving. But with so many experiencing job losses, business disruptions, reduced income and other challenges linked to the pandemic, we may be tested this winter like rarely before. Now’s the time to start planning and communicating with family and friends about expectations and traditions. Maybe this is the year for a changeup. An article and radio interview K-State expert urges families to make spending plan for the holidays can get you started. I’m already trying to figure out how to replace an annual trip with family to view decorated homes in a quaint community near Kansas City. We’ll figure out something and I’ll bet you can, too.

 Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

IT’S NOT TOO LATE to plant peonies for gorgeous blooms next year and years to come. Take a look at Fall is the Best Time to Add Peonies to the Garden for a short primer on planting new peonies, dividing mature plants, bloom time and different varieties. I found it interesting to learn that peonies sometimes prompt memories of others because they always make me think of a brother-in-law who passed away not long ago. We were different in so many ways but enjoyed talking about growing things and feeding the birds. It was our way of finding common ground – something that’s good for all of us to work on.

 

UNDERSTANDING THE INS AND OUTS and seemingly endless changes to crop insurance is part of managing risk in modern farming. To help keep farmers up on the latest developments, including weather and climate issues, a farm bill update, grain and livestock outlooks, government programs and other topics, consider attending the Kansas Crop Insurance Workshop Oct. 21 in Salina. The event is at the Tony’s Pizza Event Center, where precautions are planned to keep conference speakers and attendees safe from COVID-19.

 

WE OFTEN BRING YOU INFORMATION ABOUT WHEAT RESEARCH, MANAGEMENT AND OTHER TOPICS, but today take a look at this video of the 2020 wheat harvest on the LaRosh Family Farm in Osborne County, Kansas (the ads ahead of it are pretty short). It’s a really nice portrayal of the several late June days of harvest on one family’s farm. If you grew up on a farm, it will be nostalgic. If you didn’t, it will make you wish you had. I wonder where all of that wheat will go? In loaves of bread baked in Florida? Or Sweden? Or Taiwan? Fun to think about.

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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 – Oct. 1, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we touch on APPLES, our disappearing state bird the Western Meadowlark, Urban Food Systems Symposium, soil sampling, agricultural exports, and podcasts focused on swine research. 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

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT THIS TIME OF YEAR IS APPLES, RIGHT? Apple strudel, French apple pie, cider donuts – it’s all good. Whether you’re a MacIntosh or Jonathan kind of guy or a Gala or Fuji kind of girl, it’s helpful to know we can keep that flavor going by safely preserving this classic fruit. Take a look at Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe: Apples for tips on freezing and canning, plus recipes for applesauce, apple butter and more. I’m not sure how I missed it early in life, but I finally discovered how well apple slices and peanut butter go together. So good.

 

 

 

OH, NO! THE KANSAS STATE BIRD IS DISAPPEARING? Previously I brought you information about how bird populations are declining but I was thinking in general terms. You know, how you don’t really think about something affecting you until it happens in your own family or your own back yard? Then, I heard one of our own K-State extension agents featured on an excellent KCUR Up to Date podcast about the Western Meadowlark and other birds disappearing. Geary County extension agent Chuck Otte also serves as the secretary of the Kansas Bird Records Committee. Listen in to hear why they’re disappearing and what we can do about it. He’s also quoted in a Wichita Eagle newspaper article on the topic. Did you know that the Western Meadowlark is the state bird for six states? I don’t remember learning THAT in elementary school.

THIS YEAR’S URBAN FOOD SYSTEMS SYMPOSIUM STARTS WED., OCT. 7 and will be held every Wednesday in October. Because it’s virtual this year, you can be anywhere and join in. With the theme Nourishing Cities in a Changing Climate, the symposium offers an array of topics and nationally-known speakers from across the country. Take a look at the schedule and register now.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

GROWING GOOD, HEALTHY PLANTS STARTS WITH GOOD SOIL. But some of us in Kansas have less than perfect soils that can use some help in growing fruit, vegetables and even crops and pastures. The way to determine what we can do to improve our soils for growing seasons to come is by taking a soil sample and now is a good time of year to do that. A short Wildcat Extension District article on Soil Sampling provides the basics. Check with your local K-State Research and Extension office with any questions about submitting samples. Hey, sometimes you have diagnostic bloodwork done before you go to the doctor, right? In this case the payoff is in a beautiful lawn, a better, healthier broccoli or cantaloupe crop or more beautiful, abundant flowers. Another factoid I came across this week is that Kansas has a state soil! It’s Harney Silt Loam.

 

 

ABOUT HALF OF THE KANSAS WHEAT CROP IS EXPORTED TO OTHER COUNTRIES EACH YEAR and plenty of our other crops are, too. In fact, overall Kansas exports nearly $3.8 billion in agricultural products including beef, wheat, soybeans and corn, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture. That’s a huge contribution to the state’s economy and is why the state’s farmers and ranchers keep a keen eye on what’s going on in other countries. Take a look at Notes and Observations in International Commodity Markets to keep up on the latest developments.

 

K-STATE AND OTHER LAND GRANT UNIVERSITIES DO A TON OF RESEARCH including agricultural research, and the results are usually written up in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The outcomes – what the scientists learned – are often also shared with the public via news articles, radio broadcasts, extension agent columns and newsletters. That’s what land grant universities do – conduct research and convey the results to citizens whose lives, homes, communities and industries may be affected. A relatively new way of presenting research results is through podcasts. Pork producers, nutritionists, veterinarians and others in the industry will want to listen to Swine Podcasts which provide research presentations on a variety of topics. Think of it as This American Life for swine producers. Too much of a stretch?!

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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/