Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: board games

Better Kansas – April 23, 2020

Today in Better Kansas we touch on the benefits of board games, kids in the kitchen, a fun video, lawn mowing how-tos and farmland values, plus soil testing and plant disease diagnosis.  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

Better Living, Better Communities

WITH ALL OF THIS TOGETHERNESS, there’s no better time to put away the cell phones, turn off the TV and dig out that Monopoly or Trouble game (or whatever is in the closet). The family I grew up in were not game players other than occasional Checkers, but once I had children of my own, we enjoyed Go Fish, and later Yahtzee, Uno and Mancala. Board games and card games bring people together and promote interaction in ways that video games and television just don’t. Games encourage communication, listening, and sometimes strengthen STEM skills. Plus, they can give children a voice and encourage decision making. Check out Bonding Thru Board Games for so many reasons to give it a try. Have you tried Nerts? What a wild experience! It’s the only time I yell at my daughter-in-law … all in good fun. She always wins.

FLOUR IS FLYING OFF GROCERY STORE SHELVES SO THAT MUST MEAN MORE OF US ARE BAKING AT HOME RIGHT NOW. It may require a little more patience, but experts say it’s a good idea to include children in the baking and cooking process if possible. A recent You Asked It item says letting children help in the kitchen nurtures STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills. Plus, we often hear accomplished cooks and bakers say their love for cooking or baking came from memories of helping a parent or grandparent in the kitchen. More ideas come from the Home Baking Association, which strives to teach essential living skills while connecting with agriculture, food science and more. The program offers lessons grouped by age category. Oh, and there are recipes!


OKAY, I’M INCLUDING THIS TODAY BECAUSE IT JUST MADE ME HAPPY and can’t we all use a little more of that right now? You don’t have to be a big Wildcat fan to appreciate the sentiment conveyed by the K-State Director of Bands in this video. Watch it from the beginning and turn your speakers on! It even brought a smile to a Jayhawk friend of mine.


Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, START YOUR MOWERS! One of those simple joys in life is the look and smell of a newly mowed lawn. It’s such a nice reward for our efforts. For tips on sharpening mower blades take a look at a video on the topic. And even more information is available in Mowing Your Lawn, including optimal mower height and frequency for the type of grass you have, suggestions for handling clippings, mowing patterns and choosing a mower. It even covers a topic that comes up often: to mow or not to mow in rainy weather? (The answer is yes, if the grass is getting too long and you can’t get a dry break.) This all reminds me of a time when a neighbor asked why I was mowing the grass when my then-teenagers could do it. My response was that I loved doing it! Trust me, the kiddos all took their turns, too.


AMONG THE NEWS ARTICLES I’VE WRITTEN OVER THE YEARS, some of the most popular have been on the topic of farmland values. Farmland values in large part, reflect the economic well-being of farmers. The price of farmland rose quickly from 2008-2014, but in 2015, lower prices for the crops farmers grow on that land also pulled land prices lower. For details, including specific regions of the state, check the new Kansas Agricultural Land Values and Trends 2019 book. I didn’t know until I read this that the number of acres sold on an annual basis across the state has decreased dramatically since 2014-2015. Interesting stuff. The publication was produced by K-State’s Department of Agricultural Economics in collaboration with the American Society of Farm Managers and Appraisers. In addition, check out a webinar on what’s happening to land values in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.


EVEN THOUGH MANY K-STATE STAFF AND FACULTY MEMBERS ARE WORKING FROM HOME, ESSENTIAL WORK IS STILL GOING ON. Two of the labs on the Manhattan campus that are open and accepting samples from farmers, homeowners and landowners are the Soil Testing Lab and the Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab. Because of circumstances linked to COVID-19, however, the process to submit samples has changed somewhat. Take a look at an online update about the labs and the proper methods to submit samples while still keeping yourself and others safe.


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:



Better Kansas – June 6, 2019

Header image for the Better Kansas Blog

By Mary Lou Peter

K-State Research and Extension – 6/6/2019

Greetings! Today we launch a new way to give you a glimpse each week about cool things happening around the state, plus resources available for individuals, families, communities, farms and other businesses.

Again, it’s just a glimpse!

For many more resources and activities, check with the K-State Research and Extension office in your area.

Watch for Better Kansas again next Thursday. In the meantime, please share it with friends, family and colleagues. Email me at and let me know what you think.

Better Living, Better Communities

WATER WATER EVERYWHERE! Many Kansas communities are dealing with flooding, tornadoes and other disasters that hit the state this spring and the possibility for more. As of June 1, 33 of the state’s 105 counties were on the federal emergency declaration list. Dealing with basement cleanup? Flooded farm fields? K-State has helpful information on those topics and more, provided by our own specialists and partners at land grant universities across the country.

HAPPY TOGETHER AT HOME? Some call them creepy crawlies; I call them “corner spiders” and maybe a few other choice words, but whatever you call those multi-legged, fascinating creatures that hang out in your basement, bathroom, garden and other places in your home or office, you’ll likely find them in a new publication, Household Pests of Kansas. One of my favorites is the boxelder bug, but then, I digress. Check it out.

TIES THAT BIND: How long has it been since you sat down with family and friends and played checkers, Monopoly or another board game? Playing board games brings people together like few activities can and with the right game, almost anyone can participate. Unlike watching television or attending sporting events together, games encourage interaction among all the players. Sedgwick County Extension and other extension offices host “Bonding Thru Board Games” at different times of the year. Grab your favorite game or play one provided … and don’t forget the camera!

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

KANSAS NET FARM INCOME CLIMBS, BUT WITH A CATCH: Kansas net farm income rose last year to an average of $100,000 despite weather extremes, trade disputes and depressed market prices. That marked the third year in a row of gains after a steep slide in net income in 2015. However 63% of the 2018 income came from government payments and crop insurance. The data came from an annual summary of the records of Kansas Farm Management Association member farms. The data digs deep into income by type of farm and includes value of farm production, total farm expense, crop production costs, total family living expense and more, plus year-to-year comparisons. Check out more about the KFMA or call 785-532-8706.

DON’T PUT THOSE RAIN BOOTS AWAY JUST YET: K-State climatologists Mary Knapp and Chip Redmond with Kansas Mesonet have issued their take on the summer weather outlook. Think cooler and maybe rainier than usual in some parts of the state.

WET FEET: We often have weather extremes in Kansas … too dry, too windy, too much rain … this spring it’s been the latter, which delayed spring crop planting through much of the state.  As of June 2, 79% of the Kansas corn crop had been planted, compared with 96% last year and 93% average, while 26% of soybeans had been planted, well behind 77% last year and 53% average, according to the National Ag Statistics Service. Similar scenarios are happening across the country, with 67% of the corn planted across the 18 primary states, far behind 96% a year ago and 96% average. Just 39% of U.S. soybeans had been planted compared with 86% a year ago and 79% average. Recent K-State Department of Agronomy eUpdates have information about what this means for crops, tips to manage your situation and much more.