Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

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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 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 – 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/

Better Kansas – May 28, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we highlight strawberries, Medicare counseling, birdwatching, summer weather outlook and drones and robotics in agriculture. 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

STRAWBERRIES, THOSE YUMMY HEALTH-BOOSTING WONDERS OF NATURE are increasingly showing up in grocery sale ads, farmer’s markets and soon, in home gardens. They’re a great source of manganese and vitamin C, an antioxidant necessary for immune and skin health, plus a good source of folate (vitamin B9) and potassium. I like them in yogurt, but they’re so good on their own and over ice cream. And then there are strawberry pies and jellies! Take a look at Strawberries for great information if you’re growing your own. Also,  Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe: Strawberries gives the scoop on freezing and canning, including step-by-step instructions for making strawberry jam and more.

 

IF YOU’RE ANYWHERE CLOSE TO THE AGE WHERE YOU ARE ELIGIBLE FOR MEDICARE, learning the difference between Parts A & B … and D can be daunting. And then there’s the onslaught of publications and invitations to free seminars about supplemental plan options that insurance companies bombard you with …. I’m told :). K-State Research and Extension agents throughout Kansas are trained as Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) counselors who can work with you, a family member or friend for free to help you determine the best path as you navigate the choices. Click here for a list of extension agents who are trained as SHICK counselors and a map showing where they’re located.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

MOST OF US HAVE SPENT MORE TIME AT HOME LATELY BECAUSE OF COVID-19. When the days tend to blend together in that same space, simple things like taking walks, watching gorgeous sunsets and bird watching can be therapeutic. And feeding those birds is a surefire way to draw a (bird) crowd. Unlike us, it’s safe for them to congregate right now! Check out a series of Backyard Birding Guides on the Geary County extension website for terrific information on bird watching, bird feeding, landscaping for birds and more. It’s fun to see the dynamics between the birds that come to visit – there’s a definite pecking order! I knew a lot of birds like sunflowers, but apparently some, like the Dark-eyed Junco, want their sunflowers hulled … reminds me of some picky eaters I know! That handsome fellow at the feeder and his mate have taken up residency in my back yard.

KANSAS IS A STATE DIVIDED, AGAIN! No, this isn’t about politics or college sports. This time it’s about precipitation. A recent outlook brought to us by the Kansas Weather Data Library indicates that eastern Kansas will likely continue to receive above normal precipitation this summer, while drought is expected to persist in western Kansas, and may intensify. Take a look at the Summer Weather Outlook for Kansas for much more detail and great graphics. By the way, as of May 24, topsoil moisture supplies were rated 8% very short, 15% short, 59% adequate and 18% surplus, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Subsoil moisture was 7% very short, 17% short, 66% adequate and 10% surplus. Temperature-wise, we are expected to see warmer-than-normal temperatures for June-August in southwest Kansas, but neutral (equal chance of warmer- or cooler-than-normal) for the rest of the state.

 

WE’VE HEARD HOW DRONES ARE BEING USED BY THE MILITARY AND ROBOTICS BY MANUFACTURERS, but farmers also are using the technology to help grow the world’s food supply. Take a look at how rovers, robots and drones (aka unmanned aircraft) are being used for insect and drought stress detection and much more in the SEEK Research Magazine. So cool that a rover can detect insects in a field of sorghum, for instance, and spray only in the area where it’s needed. That way, less chemicals are used than if spraying a whole field – win-win for the farmer’s costs and the environment.

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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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