Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: cattle and drought

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

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 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.


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: