Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: K-State Research and Extension

Better Kansas – Aug. 6, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we address the hazards of sitting, food waste, empty nesters, lawn irrigation, 2020 wheat variety performance and a sheep and goat survey. This is a small glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Keep the ideas and feedback coming and subscribe! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

FOR VARIOUS REASONS, MANY OF US HAVE BEEN SITTING … A LOT! That doesn’t mean we’re lazy. It’s just that a lot of us spend hours every day at a computer. And for those of us still working from home, we’re not even getting into our vehicles to go to and from work or walking into buildings, climbing the stairs at the office or other activity involved in our normal day-to-day lives. In fact, normal is beginning to feel like a distant memory. That’s why the article Are We Sitting Ourselves to Death? really resonated with me. The article references the K-State Research and Extension Walk Kansas program which won’t kick in again until next spring, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get out there and start moving on our own – even if it’s 15 minutes at lunchtime.

IT’S KIND OF SHOCKING, BUT WE WASTE A LOT OF FOOD – to the tune of $1,500 a year for a family of four on average. In total, 133 billion pounds or 30% to 40% of edible food is wasted each year, worth an estimated $161 billion in the United States alone. I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to buying something that sounds good at the time, only to find it hidden behind the milk and orange juice in the fridge, covered with a fine layer of mold. Or remember that can of sweet potatoes you bought in 2012? For a whole lot more on this topic, read Working Together to Reduce Food Waste. It includes suggestions for ways to avoid food waste as well as productive ways you can still use food even if it’s not okay to eat.

 

EMPTY NEST? When the last of the kiddos flies the coop or is about to, it can trigger a range of emotions for parents, including excitement, relief, anxiety and more. If they’re leaving because they’re off to school … or to a new job (would benefits be too much to ask?), it’s quite a moment. And what will day-to-day life be like without them? An article, What Happens Now? The Children are Gone has been around awhile, but how we feel and react to this part of life hasn’t changed much. This brought back my own flood of memories from when the first of my three went off to college and the reality that the dynamics of our family were changed forever. And wow, when the other two left, the house was SO (too) QUIET!

 

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

THOUGH EARLY AUGUST BROUGHT WELCOME RAIN AND A BREAK IN TEMPERATURES for some of us, plenty of counties in western and southeast Kansas are still dry. Wherever we are, irrigating lawns may make sense this summer. But even if you’re watering three times a week, do you know how much moisture your grass is getting? One of the best (and amazingly simple) suggestions I’ve heard is to place empty cans in various places around your yard, so you can measure just how much water gathers in them. That suggestion and a whole lot more information is available on the Turfgrass Irrigating page.

 

MAKING DECISIONS – ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH BIG FINANCIAL, TIME AND EFFORT IMPLICATIONS, is difficult, but Kansas wheat growers have help as they determine what varieties to plant this fall. The Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Rating 2020 publication shows how different wheat varieties fared around the state in the 2019-20 growing season with regard to disease and insect challenges. The information, used in combination with data available in the K-State Winter Wheat Performance Tests report, offers growers powerful tools to assist in making planting decisions.

 

NOT LONG AGO I DISCOVERED HOW MUCH I LIKE GOAT CHEESE, so was happy to learn that the sheep and goat industry across Kansas is growing. In 2018, Kansas was home to nearly 74,000 sheep, 43,000 goats raised for meat and 6,000 goats raised for dairy. To help determine the economic impact of that industry, K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Agriculture are asking producers to take the Sheep and Goat Survey. The results will be used to help guide education, marketing, research and outreach efforts and will shed light on sheep and goat inventories in particular parts of the state.

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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 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 23, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we bring information on back-to-school shopping, rethinking retirement, preserving tomatoes, dividing daylilies, early fall weather outlook and morning glories. 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

BACKPACK, CHECK.

PENCILS, CHECK.

NEW CLOTHES, CHECK.

HAND SANITIZER, ????

IT ALMOST FEELS LIKE NORMAL! ADS ARE POPPING UP EVERYWHERE for school supplies, new clothes and dorm accessories, just like they do every summer before the typical school year. But, a typical year this is not. With recent news from the governor’s office that Kansas kids won’t start school until after Labor Day, you likely have a little more time. That’s good because many are still sorting out whether children will physically go to school, learn online or some variation of both. Because retail sales have been hit hard by COVID-19, some stores may offer even better bargains than usual, according to Back to School Shopping: 2020 Edition. Even though some districts have not unveiled lists of needed school supplies, one suggestion is that you’ll almost certainly need hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, so grab them when you can. For an audio version of the article, click here.

 

BABY BOOMERS HAVE RETIRED IN DROVES THE PAST FEW YEARS and many more are expecting to in the near future. COVID-19-related job losses pushed at least one of my neighbors into retirement a year earlier than she’d planned and she’s not alone. The pandemic likely crimped many peoples’ retirement plans one way or another. Some may have to delay retirement because of lost income. An interesting podcast Rethinking Retirement Plans Post Pandemic includes a discussion on Social Security as well information about When Your Income Drops. Take a listen or read the articles.

 

‘TIS THE SEASON … LAST WEEK I ADDRESSED A CHALLENGE IN GROWING TOMATOES but this week I’m including information on preserving those mainstays of summer.  Take a look at Preserve It Fresh, Preserve It Safe: Tomatoes for information on freezing (yes, you can do that) and canning, plus step-by-step instructions for some of our favorite tomato-based foods, including barbecue sauce. I’ve been fortunate over the years to have wonderful family and friends who grew tomatoes, preserved them and shared them with me. Thank you, Janet, Helen, Cary and everyone else who has been so generous. It’s so appreciated! So, you all … bring on the chili, salsa and spaghetti sauce recipes!

 

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

FOR THOSE OF US WHO’D RATHER BE TENDING OUR PLANTS or doing almost anything outdoors than inside cleaning or working this time of year (I plead GUILTY!), there’s so much to like in the weekly Horticulture Newsletter. This week I was drawn to information on dividing irises, those elegant flowers that grace us year after year with their gorgeous colors. Every three to five years it’s a good idea to divide iris plants to help rejuvenate them and increase flowering and this is the prime time of year to do that. Take a look at the Dividing Iris video and the written section for more, plus information on tree problems, tomatoes, Euonymous scale, and harvesting grapes.

 

WARMER THAN NORMAL WEATHER MAY STAY WITH US THROUGH AUGUST AND linger into fall, according to an early outlook in the Agronomy eUpdate. The latest data (plus great maps) via the Kansas Weather Data Library also indicate we may have below normal precipitation across much of the state in the next few months. That may not bode well for crops … or lawns for that matter … in some already dry areas but could make things easier for fall row crop harvesting and winter wheat planting. Timing is everything! Let’s (always) hope for moisture at the right time.

 

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.

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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 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/

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