Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

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/

 

Better Kansas – July 2, 2020

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Better Kansas – July 2, 2020

In today’s Better Kansas, we touch on unusual foods, reading suggestions for kids, Japanese beetles in lawns and gardens, irrigating crops and the effect of high temperature on corn. 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

EVER HAVE THIS EXPERIENCE? YOU’RE LOOKING OVER THE MENU AT A NEW RESTAURANT and you come across an ingredient that has you stumped. You’re reluctant to ask your server what it is, but will you like it? Is it spicy? To help you know your spelt from your couscous and your chia seeds from your ugli fruit (apparently, there is such a thing :), check out Fixing Funky Foods. The article covers unusual fruits, vegetables and grains, including nutrition considerations, facts about food origins and cooking methods. For instance, spelt, also known as dinkel wheat or hulled wheat, has been around since 5,000 BC. This is not to be confused with smelt, a small fish I’d never heard of until I lived in the Chicago area. There’s actually a smelt season!

 

WE HAVE WEEKS OF SUMMER TO GO AND KEEPING YOUNG KIDDOS BUSY IS EVEN MORE CHALLENGING THAN USUAL. Many community pools and other recreational venues remain closed because of the pandemic, while others have opened but with increased restrictions. Now is a great time to nurture an interest in reading. Not everyone shares my love of reading, but this is always an easy sell for me. I once heard someone say they didn’t encourage their children to read during the summer because they were on vacation. Interesting … I’ve always thought of reading as “a vacation of the mind.” A book can take you places in your mind even when you can’t physically go to those places. Take a look at Suddenly in Charge: Reading with Young Children for suggestions, including specific books and related activities. The fact sheet is in both English and Spanish.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

 THIS WARM, SUNNY WEATHER MAY BE SPARKING A QUIET INVASION ACROSS OUR LAWNS AND GARDENS … an invasion of Japanese beetles, that is. And they’re not exactly picky about what they eat. Flowers, trees, shrubs and turfgrass, they love it all and can cause a lot of damage to our lawns and gardens. To learn more, read the entry about this invasive pest in a recent Horticulture Newsletter, which also includes short entries on brown patch in tall fescue lawns, a lack of vegetables on otherwise healthy-looking plants, harvesting garlic and more. Additional information about Japanese beetles is available in the entomology blog. A reminder, if you have a problem with your lawn or garden and are not sure what it is, check with your local K-State Research and Extension office for help in identifying the culprit.

 

IRRIGATING HUNDREDS OF ACRES OF CROPS IS NO EASY OR INEXPENSIVE PROPOSITION, so farmers want to use that precious water as efficiently as possible. On a recent Agriculture Today podcast, a western Kansas-based K-State specialist offers considerations on striving for top efficiency in crop irrigation this summer. He suggests that producers look at the frequency of watering, touting the idea of irrigating more volume less frequently. Other podcast topics include a segment with a Farm Service Agency official on adjustments that have been made in managing USDA loans for existing borrowers, plus a reminder that the FSA continues to take applications for new direct and guaranteed loans. A segment on how the Kansas wheat harvest is progressing rounds out the program.

 

KANSAS TEMPERATURES ARE CLIMBING AND WE’RE NOT THE ONLY ONES AFFECTED. Livestock and crops get stressed, too, and corn is at a particularly vulnerable stage of development, especially in the southeast part of the state. For a discussion on heat stress in corn and what it means for vegetative phases, tasseling, pollen shed and silk extrusion, check out June Heat in Kansas, a part of the weekly Agronomy eUpdate newsletter. While you’re there, you might want to take a look at other crop production-related articles.

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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 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/

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