Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: Kansas State University

Better Kansas – Oct. 15, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we touch on Medicare counseling, a fire safety activity you can do with children, pumpkins, risk management in agriculture and the 2020 Virtual Swine Day. It’s just a glimpse of what K-State Research and Extension across the state has to offer. Take a look, share on social media and subscribe. – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

MEDICARE OPEN ENROLLMENT HAS BEGUN. If you’d like help sorting through your options from a trained, unbiased counselor who has no ties to an insurance company, check with your local K-State Research and Extension office. Some extension agents are trained SHICK (Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas) counselors and offer one-on-one help for you or a family member or friend to confidentially sort through your best options with Medicare, Medicare Supplemental Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance and more. Medicare Open Enrollment for 2021 runs Oct. 15-Dec. 7, 2020. If your county or district extension office doesn’t have a SHICK counselor, there may still be a counselor in your area. Check with the SHICK program, a part of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services’ Commission on Aging, or call 1-800-856-5260.

 

OH, I REALLY LIKE THIS! Take a look at this proactive activity you can do with children to develop a fire escape plan for your house. It’s included in the Suddenly in Charge resources aimed at anyone, including teens and tweens who are helping take care of younger children during the pandemic … or any time. Other resources center on reading, physical activity, community and civic engagement. And if you’re interested in more preparedness topics, check out the Prepare Kansas blog.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WANT LONG-LASTING PUMPKINS ON YOUR FRONT PORCH? Just like the freshness with all fruits and vegetables, it makes a difference when they were harvested. Take a look at the most recent Horticulture Newsletter for tips on choosing a pumpkin that will last awhile, plus carving and roasting pumpkin seeds. This edition also has information on storing summer flower bulbs over the winter (plus a link to a video), native plants in northeast Kansas, cool season vegetable hardiness, tucking your lawnmower in for the winter, why some late season lawn seedings fail, and controlling broadleaf weeds in the lawn in fall.

 

UNPREDICTABLE WEATHER, FLUCTUATING MARKETS AND INTERNATIONAL OCCURENCES beyond our control make farming and ranching a risky, albeit rewarding,  business. And this year with COVID-19, we’ve seen that forces we could never imagine can influence commodity markets and livelihoods. If you’re managing risk in agriculture, check out the Risk Management Strategies newsletter for in-depth information. Yes, there’s a lot of alphabet soup to digest, but the USDA kindly has an online helpful glossary of acronyms. You might want to bookmark it on your computer. It’s REALLY long to print!

 

 

IT’S ALMOST HERE! NOW’S THE TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE 2020 K-STATE VIRTUAL SWINE DAY NOV. 18-19 for updates on the latest K-State nutrition, feed safety and feed processing research. So much good information, including feeding sows before farrowing; preparing for a world without zinc oxide; the future of feed safety research; feed mill biosecurity; and other topics. It’s disappointing to not be able to meet in person, but the virtual format will keep people safe PLUS allows you to participate from wherever you are.

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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 – Oct. 8, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we shine a light 😊on our need for Vitamin D, community activities and resources, making a spending plan for the holidays, peonies, a crop insurance workshop and a cool video of a family farm’s wheat harvest. 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

DO YOU HAVE A “D” PROBLEM? As in Vitamin D? Apparently, many of us do. We get Vitamin D primarily from exposure to the sun. It’s important for bone health and plays a role in our immune systems and our resistance to diabetes. Unlike many other vitamins, there are few ways to get it through foods, unless they’ve been fortified with it. Foods that offer it naturally are certain yeasts and plants, plus oily fish such as mackerel, tuna and salmon. Foods that are sometimes fortified with it are milk, butter, cereals, bread, yogurt and orange juice. Take a look at Vitamin D: From Sunshine to Supplements to learn more. With daylight growing shorter and shorter, this may be the most important time of year to think about how to ensure we’re getting enough of this vital nutrient.

 

A RECENT KANSAS PRIDE NEWSLETTER reminds us of the many things volunteers all over the state are doing to make their communities better places to live, work and play. Blue Rapids is enhancing a park, Hugoton is working to bring its theater back to life and Osawatomie had 30 volunteers come out for a park cleanup. Check out the PRIDE newsletter for information about an Oct. 15 webinar by the Kansas League of Municipalities, upcoming grant writing workshops, funding sources and more.

By the way, though it’s not small or rural, my own hometown is capitalizing on our national love of tacos with the Kansas City, Kansas Taco Trail. What a great way to draw people to businesses in the community! Somehow I missed that Oct. 4 was National Taco Day, according to whomever deems such things so. But then, isn’t every day, taco day?

 

COVID OR NO, ONE THING’S CERTAIN, the holidays will still come. And with those holidays often come expectations. Not that we haven’t already scaled back our ideas of gatherings and gift giving. But with so many experiencing job losses, business disruptions, reduced income and other challenges linked to the pandemic, we may be tested this winter like rarely before. Now’s the time to start planning and communicating with family and friends about expectations and traditions. Maybe this is the year for a changeup. An article and radio interview K-State expert urges families to make spending plan for the holidays can get you started. I’m already trying to figure out how to replace an annual trip with family to view decorated homes in a quaint community near Kansas City. We’ll figure out something and I’ll bet you can, too.

 Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

IT’S NOT TOO LATE to plant peonies for gorgeous blooms next year and years to come. Take a look at Fall is the Best Time to Add Peonies to the Garden for a short primer on planting new peonies, dividing mature plants, bloom time and different varieties. I found it interesting to learn that peonies sometimes prompt memories of others because they always make me think of a brother-in-law who passed away not long ago. We were different in so many ways but enjoyed talking about growing things and feeding the birds. It was our way of finding common ground – something that’s good for all of us to work on.

 

UNDERSTANDING THE INS AND OUTS and seemingly endless changes to crop insurance is part of managing risk in modern farming. To help keep farmers up on the latest developments, including weather and climate issues, a farm bill update, grain and livestock outlooks, government programs and other topics, consider attending the Kansas Crop Insurance Workshop Oct. 21 in Salina. The event is at the Tony’s Pizza Event Center, where precautions are planned to keep conference speakers and attendees safe from COVID-19.

 

WE OFTEN BRING YOU INFORMATION ABOUT WHEAT RESEARCH, MANAGEMENT AND OTHER TOPICS, but today take a look at this video of the 2020 wheat harvest on the LaRosh Family Farm in Osborne County, Kansas (the ads ahead of it are pretty short). It’s a really nice portrayal of the several late June days of harvest on one family’s farm. If you grew up on a farm, it will be nostalgic. If you didn’t, it will make you wish you had. I wonder where all of that wheat will go? In loaves of bread baked in Florida? Or Sweden? Or Taiwan? Fun to think about.

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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 – Oct. 1, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we touch on APPLES, our disappearing state bird the Western Meadowlark, Urban Food Systems Symposium, soil sampling, agricultural exports, and podcasts focused on swine research. 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

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT THIS TIME OF YEAR IS APPLES, RIGHT? Apple strudel, French apple pie, cider donuts – it’s all good. Whether you’re a MacIntosh or Jonathan kind of guy or a Gala or Fuji kind of girl, it’s helpful to know we can keep that flavor going by safely preserving this classic fruit. Take a look at Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe: Apples for tips on freezing and canning, plus recipes for applesauce, apple butter and more. I’m not sure how I missed it early in life, but I finally discovered how well apple slices and peanut butter go together. So good.

 

 

 

OH, NO! THE KANSAS STATE BIRD IS DISAPPEARING? Previously I brought you information about how bird populations are declining but I was thinking in general terms. You know, how you don’t really think about something affecting you until it happens in your own family or your own back yard? Then, I heard one of our own K-State extension agents featured on an excellent KCUR Up to Date podcast about the Western Meadowlark and other birds disappearing. Geary County extension agent Chuck Otte also serves as the secretary of the Kansas Bird Records Committee. Listen in to hear why they’re disappearing and what we can do about it. He’s also quoted in a Wichita Eagle newspaper article on the topic. Did you know that the Western Meadowlark is the state bird for six states? I don’t remember learning THAT in elementary school.

THIS YEAR’S URBAN FOOD SYSTEMS SYMPOSIUM STARTS WED., OCT. 7 and will be held every Wednesday in October. Because it’s virtual this year, you can be anywhere and join in. With the theme Nourishing Cities in a Changing Climate, the symposium offers an array of topics and nationally-known speakers from across the country. Take a look at the schedule and register now.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

GROWING GOOD, HEALTHY PLANTS STARTS WITH GOOD SOIL. But some of us in Kansas have less than perfect soils that can use some help in growing fruit, vegetables and even crops and pastures. The way to determine what we can do to improve our soils for growing seasons to come is by taking a soil sample and now is a good time of year to do that. A short Wildcat Extension District article on Soil Sampling provides the basics. Check with your local K-State Research and Extension office with any questions about submitting samples. Hey, sometimes you have diagnostic bloodwork done before you go to the doctor, right? In this case the payoff is in a beautiful lawn, a better, healthier broccoli or cantaloupe crop or more beautiful, abundant flowers. Another factoid I came across this week is that Kansas has a state soil! It’s Harney Silt Loam.

 

 

ABOUT HALF OF THE KANSAS WHEAT CROP IS EXPORTED TO OTHER COUNTRIES EACH YEAR and plenty of our other crops are, too. In fact, overall Kansas exports nearly $3.8 billion in agricultural products including beef, wheat, soybeans and corn, according to the Kansas Department of Agriculture. That’s a huge contribution to the state’s economy and is why the state’s farmers and ranchers keep a keen eye on what’s going on in other countries. Take a look at Notes and Observations in International Commodity Markets to keep up on the latest developments.

 

K-STATE AND OTHER LAND GRANT UNIVERSITIES DO A TON OF RESEARCH including agricultural research, and the results are usually written up in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The outcomes – what the scientists learned – are often also shared with the public via news articles, radio broadcasts, extension agent columns and newsletters. That’s what land grant universities do – conduct research and convey the results to citizens whose lives, homes, communities and industries may be affected. A relatively new way of presenting research results is through podcasts. Pork producers, nutritionists, veterinarians and others in the industry will want to listen to Swine Podcasts which provide research presentations on a variety of topics. Think of it as This American Life for swine producers. Too much of a stretch?!

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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 – Sept. 24, 2020

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This week in Better Kansas, we touch on the 2020 Census, brain health, more bugs, soybean market outlook, cattle recordkeeping and early industrial hemp research in Kansas. 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

GREAT JOB, KANSAS! It’s so nice to have some good news. With just days left to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census, 98.6% of Kansas households had responded, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That beats the national response rate of 95% as of Sept. 22. For a current look at the response rate in Kansas and other states, check out the U.S. Census 2020 website. By the way, if you’re reading this and have not responded, you have until Sept. 30, so get in there and make sure our neighborhoods, communities and state get our share of billions of federal dollars that go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads and other critical resources.

 

BE HONEST, HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU CLIMBED THE STAIRS with five different things on your mind (or maybe just one?! :-0), and forgotten why you went up to that room to start with? It happens to all of us for various reasons. In Keys to Embracing Aging: Brain Activity, we learn about ways we can stay mentally fit through socialization, nutrition, sleep, physical activity, and mental stimulation. It sounds so easy, but that’s not always so. Our lives just don’t always lend themselves to taking good care of ourselves … sometimes a little retooling is in order. And let me be clear, it’s not strictly an age thing. Ask any woman who just had a baby about Mommy brain or brain fog. And guys, I have plenty of anecdotal evidence, it’s not just us girls.

HERE I GO AGAIN WITH THE BUGS….

If you have generally come to an agreement with the bugs in your neighborhood, that they stay in their space and you stay in yours, it’s easy to coexist with them. I don’t often find bugs in my house but have encountered three spiders in the last two weeks. I read somewhere that they’re just looking for a warm place as the days and nights get cooler. Can’t blame them but I really don’t want to share my personal space with them, either. Take a look at Household Insects of Kansas for all kinds of good information about everything from boxelder bugs to crickets to termites and everything in between. There’s even info on Firebrats … there really is such a thing and it’s not a tv show about superhero kids.

And one more thing … rest in peace RBG and know that you did your job well. Many of us benefitted from your strength, courage and wisdom, including me.

 Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

SOME GOOD NEWS ON THE AGRICULTURE FRONT is that soybean prices have trended higher and may stay strong for a while. In the Sept. 11 Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, known in ag circles as WASDE, the USDA projected the U.S. soybean average farm price at $9.25 per bushel, up $0.90 or 10.8% from the $8.35 per bushel it had projected in its Aug. 10 report. Take a look at the Soybean Market Outlook in September 2020 for much more information about the soybean market and what’s affecting it.

 

WITH MORE THAN 1.5 MILLION HEAD OF BEEF COWS IN KANSAS, producers have a lot to keep track of. Whether you have 30 cows or 300 or more, it’s important to keep good records on calving, vaccinations, treatment and other data. The Cow/Calf Record Book was designed to help with that recordkeeping. In addition to space for individual records, it provides a guide to body condition scoring, a gestation table, and other information. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” the authors say, and with the farm economy right now, people who know about these things say that now more than ever, management is the name of the game. Take a look.

 

MAYBE YOU’VE HEARD, K-STATE IS DELVING INTO RESEARCH ON INDUSTRIAL HEMP and its possibilities as a commercial crop for Kansas. Check out a research report on initial studies, a news article about studies focused on analyzing the safety of industrial hemp for use as cattle feed, plus listen to a Dig Deep podcast featuring a researcher who is leading industrial hemp crop studies at sites across the state. Since we’re in the early stages, I’ll keep you posted!

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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/