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Welcome to Better Kansas. Every Thursday we shed light on events, resources and other information designed to make your life, your businesses, your communities and state better. For more resources and activities, check with the K-State Research and Extension office in your area. In the meantime, check http://blogs.k-state.edu/ksrenews/ to sign up for a weekly email and for archived entries. – Mary Lou Peter firstname.lastname@example.org
Better Living, Better Communities
PARENTING CAN BE WONDERFUL, JOYFUL, SATISFYING, and oh, maybe just a tad stressful. And for the many parents who are also stepparents, there are other things to consider, especially if the blended family has recently come together. We all like to think of The Brady Bunch (OK, some of you may have to Google this), but in reality, children who find themselves in a newly blended family with a new stepparent and maybe new sisters or brothers, may perceive the situation differently than their parents do. Stepping Stones for Stepfamilies provides insight into how young minds work and offers suggestions to help with this important transition. Give your family and yourself permission to try things differently. How important is your annual custom of opening gifts on Christmas Eve rather than the next morning? Build your own new traditions. Spend time doing things with each child and in combinations of family members. When it comes to discipline, it may be best for the biological parent to take the lead with the stepparent’s support, especially in the beginning.
DRIVING TO WORK EVERY MORNING I pass a farm that sells fresh produce and one thing that pulls me in is when they hoist the banner for peaches. They’re low in calories, contain no saturated fats, are a moderate source of antioxidants and vitamin C (which helps with our bodies’ ability to build connective tissue and resist infections), and oh yes, they’re delicious. And then there’s peach pie, peach cobbler, peach crisp … you know. I always think of them as so perishable, but you can freeze or can them. Check Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe – Peaches for how-to information.
NOW WHO’S READY TO TALK ABOUT DEATH? NONE OF US, RIGHT? I know I’m not, but when it’s not imminent is probably the best time and for that reason I’m going to write about these things from time to time. There’s a lot of paperwork involved after the passing of a family member and thinking ahead might ease the difficulty of those days. In what bank did Grandma have that CD? DID she still have a CD? Wonder where mom and dad’s marriage certificates are? Or their birth certificates for that matter? Decisions After a Death includes important questions and documents that can help guide us through some of the tough days. Now the big question, do your own grown children or siblings have this information about you? I don’t know about you but this is a reminder for me to do a better job of communicating this information.
Another resource is the Social Security Administration; check the Survivors area for audio and print resources.
Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening
FOR THE ONE OR TWO CATTLE FEEDERS OUT THERE … OK, there may be a few more in the state … the latest report on the estimated net returns of cattle finishing operations is now available on the Department of Agricultural Economics website. The report comes out monthly and reflects the most recent feedlot closeout estimates and current market conditions. This is a page to bookmark if you haven’t already, or sign up to be notified of this and other ag economics updates on AgManager.info. By the way, as of June 1, 2019, there were 2.38 million cattle in Kansas feedlots, up 3% from a year ago, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. That was in feedlots with 1,000 or more capacity. Overall, there were 11.7 million cattle on feed across the U.S. on the same date, which USDA says was the highest June 1 inventory since they’ve been tracking the data in 1996.
YOU KNOW WHAT IT’S LIKE TO FEED A HUNGRY TEENAGER? Chinch bugs can be a little like that when they’re looking for their next meal, so watch for signs that they’ve marched from newly-harvested wheat fields over to tender, new sorghum plants in the field next door. Planting delays caused by rain in some areas may have made the sorghum (milo) and feed crops even more vulnerable this year. Problems with chinch bugs were historically confined to eastern and central Kansas, with damage beginning in May or June, but in recent years, they’ve become more problematic farther west in the state. To learn more, take a look at the column Don’t forget about Chinch bugs after wheat harvest and the publication, Sorghum Insect Management.
REMEMBER THIS ON SATURDAY as you’re heading out to mow the lawn: The type of grass in your yard should dictate where you set the height of your mower. Cool-season grasses such as bluegrass and tall fescue are mowed higher than warm-season grasses because of their upright growth habit, especially during really hot weather. The additional height helps insulate the ground against heat, furnishes more food-producing area and encourages roots to grow more deeply into the soil, which all helps curb heat stress. Alternatively, mowing heights for warm-season grasses, particularly bermudagrass and zoysiagrass, are shorter than for cool-season grasses because their leaves are produced on runners (what the scientists call stolons) that grow close to the ground. The Mowing Your Lawn factsheet has mowing height recommendations by grass type, how often to mow, what to do with those clippings (and how to avoid them), mowing patterns and safety. It even covers the “one-third rule” – who knew?
And remember – hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – yourself that is. It’s hot out there.