Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: Kansas State University

Better Kansas – Jan. 16, 2020

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Welcome to Better Kansas, where every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. 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

OH, I LOVE THIS! HAVE YOU WONDERED IF THAT BAKING POWDER that’s been hiding behind the salt, molasses and chocolate chips in your kitchen cabinets will still get the job done? This is always a dilemma for me. Did I buy it in 2017? Or maybe 2007?!? 😊 There’s actually a guide to help us determine how long food ingredients keep their oomph! I realize “oomph” is not a scientific term, but you know what I mean. If you baked cookies and they turned out flatter than usual, some ingredient or other didn’t have its oomph. That can be just one of several problems with using old ingredients. One of the tips in Safe Food Storage: The Cupboard is to check dates and use the oldest products first. Hmmm … I guess that means bringing some items to the front of the shelves. I’m printing and posting this list inside my pantry.

 

A FEW MONTHS AGO, I wrote about choosing an in-home child care provider and linked to a resource focused on that. But a child care center or preschool may make more sense for your family. It’s a good idea to visit more than one and ask plenty of questions. How is discipline handled? Is lunch provided? Is there a specified place for a child’s personal belongings? What plans are in place in case of emergency? Will they put my child out by the curb if I don’t pick him up in time? (Just kidding with that last one …. if you get that impression, better scoot on out of there!) Check out Choosing Child Care for your Children: Child Care Centers and Preschools for a whole lot of things to consider.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WIND: We’ve got it! COLD WEATHER: We’ve got that, too! I don’t remember weather forecasters mentioning the “Wind Chill” Index when I was growing up. At some point, however, reporting on not only the temperature but also the wind speed (together they determine the wind chill) became part of weather forecasting during the cold winter months. It turns out the wind chill index was first developed in 1945 by Antarctic explorers. The National Weather Service started using the index in the late 1960s in its forecasts. Take a look at this Kansas Mesonet page to check wind chill details across the state.

 

World Without Wheat is a short, but thought-provoking, educational article by one of our extension agents, about the crop that Kansas is well-known for around the world. It touches on why the number of acres being planted to wheat across the state has been declining, who our customers for Kansas and U.S. wheat are, and who is our wheat-growing competition on the world market. There’s also a section on what farmers might do with the land on which they’ve typically grown wheat. Check out World Without Wheat.

 

IF YOU’RE A SERIOUS FRUIT GROWER and especially if you grow fruit to sell, take a look at the Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide 2019-2020. The publication was put together by a team of expert entomologists, horticulturists and plant pathologists who understand Midwest production challenges best because it’s where they live and work. It covers the nitty gritty on pesticide safety and regulations, from apples to grapes to berries and more. It even has a section on vole control. Unfortunately, voles, insects and other pests like fruit as much as we do.

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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 – Jan. 9, 2020

Header image for the Better Kansas BlogWelcome to Better Kansas, where every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. 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

FROM BASEHOR TO BAXTER SPRINGS AND LARNED TO NORTON, communities across the state are working to figure out how they can stay vibrant, determine what’s important to their residents, and how they can attract and retain businesses and visitors, not to mention residents. This year, the Kansas PRIDE program is celebrating 50 years of assisting local governments and volunteers through grants, recognition and other means of support as they make their communities better places to live and work. Kansas PRIDE is a partnership between K-State Research and Extension, the Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas Masons and Kansas PRIDE, Inc. It fits right in with extension’s increasing focus on community vitality. Check out the most recent Kansas PRIDE newsletter. Look for more on the PRIDE program as the year unfolds.

 

FOR THOSE OF US WHO AREN’T SO GOOD AT WHIPPING UP TASTY MEALS ON SHORT NOTICE, or even if you are, this is the kind of resource that speaks to us: Making a Meal from What’s on Hand is a simple guide to putting together ingredients you likely have in your pantry or refrigerator. As a writer, I sometimes have writer’s block. This resource helps what I’ll call cook’s block. It provides ideas for your starch (pasta, rice, etc.), protein (beef, chicken, egg, seafood or beans), vegetable, sauce, flavor and toppings in a handy list. Or listen to an audio report on the topic.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WHETHER YOU LIVE IN THE COUNTRY, SUBURBS OR CITY, you likely encounter wildlife from time to time. I’m not talking about the birds from the kitchen window …. I’m talking more up close and personal, like a squirrel in the attic or a snake in the basement. My most memorable was a raccoon IN the birdfeeder (see pic). And then there’s that deer that literally ran into the side of my moving car last spring. I love animals and you probably do too, but not in the attic or taking in my garden like they are at the local buffet! Sometimes it’s helpful to have information about coexisting with animals, and in some cases managing the situation. Check out the K-State Extension Wildlife Management page for videos, fact sheets and links to even more resources on everything from bats to possums to voles. Note to self: Never again put a patio chair directly under the bird feeder.

 

IF YOU HAVE CATTLE ON PASTURE YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF THE ‘TAKE HALF AND LEAVE HALF’ RULE. That involves that point when about 50% of the growing season’s top growth of grass is removed. It’s one of many considerations when you’re managing grazing cattle. Others include rotational versus continuous grazing and overgrazing. Take a look at Evaluating Rules of Thumb for Grazing Management in the Jan. 2 Beef Tips. Plus, there’s good information on genomics considerations when buying bulls, calving management, preparing for winter and nutrition information for feedlot operators.

WINTER ISN’T JUST A TIME TO THINK ABOUT PLANTING SEASON IF YOU’RE A FARMER … it’s time to grow yourself by taking in some professional development. Whether you grow corn, sorghum or other crops, the next few weeks offer opportunities to learn about the latest research, plus challenges and potential solutions for all kinds of crops grown in Kansas. Many of these are happening this month, so take a look now at:

Corn Management SchoolsWichita, Oakley, Salina and Olathe.

Sorghum Production SchoolsScott City, Great Bend and Hutchinson.

Soybean Production SchoolsSmith Center, Salina, Mulvane, Emporia, Atchison, and Marysville.

Cover Your Acres Winter Conference – Oberlin

Kansas Agricultural Technologies Conference – Junction City

Midwest Cover Crops Council Annual Conference – Kansas City

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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 – Jan. 2, 2020

Header image for the Better Kansas BlogHAPPY NEW YEAR! Welcome to Better Kansas, where every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, businesses, communities and state better. 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

SOME OF US 🙂 ARE AT A POINT IN LIFE WHERE WE’RE TAKING LESS FOR GRANTED and really evaluating how we spend our time, how we take care of ourselves and what kinds of relationships we have … or don’t have. I found this short article on Living Life Richer interesting and thought you might, too. A perfect way to start off the new year. Think about it … we finish school, dive into a career, often marry, raise children, and yes, sometimes divorce … while working to maintain relationships with spouses or ex-spouses, children, friends, family and colleagues all while trying to juggle our own expectations and others’ expectations of us. Life can get out of balance!!! Take a look especially if your life could use a little or a lot of tweaking. Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to hit the re-set button.

THE NEW YEAR HOLDS SO MUCH PROMISE! Sometimes the promises we make to ourselves at the beginning of the year have to do with managing our money better. It can be a struggle, right? What do you mean there’s a difference between “wants” and “needs”? Maybe you’ve seen a commercial recently where two women are doing yoga and one of them says something about “needing” concert tickets. Oh, come on … no one really NEEDS concert tickets. Needing is about nutritious food and clean water to fuel our bodies, maybe a dependable vehicle to get us back and forth to work or school, shelter to keep us warm and safe … you know. Check out financial resources to help your year start out right, and watch for more information about Kansas Saves and America Saves week that will be coming up later in February.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WHO KNEW? IN DIGGING AROUND THIS WEEK 😊 I LEARNED THE KANSAS GARDEN GUIDE IS BY FAR THE PERENNIAL FAVORITE of the hundreds of publications, fact sheets and other educational materials K-State Research and Extension offer on a wide array of topics. To my surprise, it topped the list of publications visited online EVERY MONTH in 2019, even in the depths of winter. Maybe this bears out the thought that farmers and gardeners tend to be optimistic people — always thinking about the next growing season. The guide garnered nearly 15,000 visits in January alone last year! In total for the first 10 months, the site had 161,875 visits. That’s an average of 16,187 a month and nearly 540 visits per day! Ok, I’m getting into the weeds here! If you’re not a gardener, there is information on many other topics at the K-State Research and Extension Bookstore.

I OFTEN SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT beef cattle and sometimes swine or poultry resources and programs, but we also have educational resources for other species including horses. Horses were what brought me to my love of being outdoors as a child in the first place … or maybe they just fit right in with what was already there. Either way, if you are a horse lover or have someone in your circle of family and friends who is, take a look at the Equine Research and Extension page for all kinds of good information … and feel free to share it with others!

 GIVEN THE GLOBAL NATURE OF THE GRAIN INDUSTRY and Kansas’ and the U.S.’ prominent place in it, plus related industries (consider the implement dealer, propane supplier, seed distributor, their employees and so on ….) many of us keep an eye on the supply and demand of grains around the world. A recent Grain Market Outlook Newsletter provides analyses of the Dec. 10 USDA World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates Report, including what the numbers mean for wheat, corn, grain sorghum and soybeans.

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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 – Dec. 19, 2019

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Happy Holidays to you! It’s been my pleasure for the past several months to bring you Better Kansas, a weekly glimpse at some of the events and resources available through K-State Research and Extension to help make your home, business, and everyday life better. I’m taking a holiday break next week but back at it on Jan. 2. In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday and please forward this to friends and family and share on social media. Plus, I’d love to hear your feedback or suggestions to make Better Kansas even … well … better! – Mary Lou Peter mlpeter@ksu.edu

Better Living, Better Communities

RECENTLY, I WAS LOOKING FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE WINTER SOLSTICE …. you know, when we have the shortest day and longest night of the year… and in my search, was reminded of a treasure trove of short (1-minute) audio reports on all things weather related in Weather Wonders. Recent snippets are about weather warnings (as in what are they?), whiteouts, heating degree days and more. And yes, I found one on the winter solstice. We live in a state where it’s a good idea to pay attention to the weather and meteorological events! Unlike conditions in some other parts of the country, weather is always changing here! By the way, this year’s winter solstice is Dec. 21. So, every day after that we can look forward to a little more daylight … until, of course, the SUMMER SOLSTICE in June!

 

BECAUSE OF ITS ODORLESS, TASTELESS AND COLORLESS WAYS, RADON CAN BE A SILENT KILLER AND unfortunately, it’s fairly prevalent in Kansas soils. The radioactive gas that occurs naturally in some soils is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. It claims the lives of about 21,000 Americans every year, according to the EPA. But there are ways to test for it and mitigate it. January is Kansas Radon Action Month. Learn more from the Kansas Radon Program based at K-State and check with your local K-State Research and Extension office (click on your county for location/contact information) – many of them have radon test kits available for a nominal cost.

 

WE ARE JUST DAYS FROM THE WINTER HOLIDAYS and for many of us (and especially procrastinators like me :-0), that means crunch time for shopping, wrapping, meal planning and more. So, when I saw there were tips on Reducing the Hassle of Holiday Food Prep, it spoke to me. I won’t be as busy with this as some of my family members this year, but hey, I’m going to help 😊!!!!! Whether you’re hosting a crowd or just looking for suggestions about pacing yourself to reduce stress anytime you’re in the kitchen, take a look. Another option is to listen in to a short audio feature on a related topic.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

GOING NUTS: TIPS ON THE BEST WAYS TO KEEP THOSE HOLIDAY pecans, walnuts and other nutty treats fresh and good tasting are part of the Dec. 17, 2019 Horticulture Newsletter. You really can freeze them! Plus, there are sections on environmentally friendly ways of disposing of real Christmas trees and how to keep fruit from gift baskets fresh as long as possible. For some reason those luscious oranges, grapefruit and pears taste even better in the midst of the cold, dark days of winter. Sort of like a promise that summer will come again.

 

THIS YEAR’S EXCEPTIONALLY WET GROWING SEASON made it more difficult than usual to bale hay without moisture, resulting in moldy hay in some cases. Horses, particularly, are more sensitive to mold than some livestock, but cattle and people can be affected, too. If you’re faced with decisions about feeding moldy hay and other livestock production considerations, check out livestock and forage articles on this and other related topics.

 

MOST OF THE STATE’S WINTER WHEAT CROP HAS EMERGED BUT IS NOT COMING ALONG as is typical at this point of the season. Below normal precipitation and temperatures in many areas, especially central and western Kansas, impeded emergence rates and in some areas where the crop emerged, fields are in poor shape. In its last weekly progress report of the 2019 growing season on Dec. 9, USDA said 94% of Kansas wheat had emerged. Its condition was rated 24% poor to very poor, 38% fair, 35% good and 3% excellent. Take a look at an Agronomy eUpdate on this season’s crop and what producers should watch for. At stake is a Kansas crop that in 2018 alone was worth more than $1.3 billion. Typically, about half of our state’s wheat is exported to other countries.

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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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