Better Kansas – Ideas for Living, Growing and Succeeding

Tag: Kansas State University

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/

Better Kansas – Sept. 17, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, find information on food safety, navigating legal and financial issues for stepfamilies, community coalitions, fall perennials for the garden, the 2020 Beef Stocker (Virtual) Field Day and farm family assistance through the Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services. 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

THIS HEADLINE CAUGHT MY EYE: TAKE TIME TO VENT! No, it doesn’t refer to an animated political discussion at the dinner table. It’s a recent article about pressure canning in the September “YOU ASKED IT” food safety e-newsletter. Check out several months’ worth of tips on food safety, food preservation, food labels and more. Did you know that an estimated 32 million Americans have a food allergy? All the more reason why accurate food labels are important.

IT’S NOT A COMFORTABLE TOPIC BUT I’VE COME ACROSS A RESOURCE that would have been helpful to me and others I know, had it existed at the time. It addresses Understanding Financial and Legal Matters for Stepfamilies. In addition to various scenarios that may play out once a blended family is formed, this fact sheet is a reminder about the important questions couples should ask themselves (and each other) when considering marrying and blending a family. They could also be good conversation points for already married couples who could use an occasional tune-up. Again, it’s not a comfortable topic but many important conversations in life are not easy. A little upfront discussion, however, may keep things running smoothly down the road.

 

ONE OF THE THINGS EXTENSION SERVICES ACROSS THE COUNTRY DO INCREDIBLY WELL, including K-State Research and Extension, is to bring people together for the mutual benefit of all. One of my colleagues brought the Kitchen Restore program to my attention recently as just one example of how communities benefit when we help link people with available resources. In this instance, a county extension office has joined forces with numerous local and regional agencies to serve citizens in the Flint Hills region of Kansas. County and district extension agents and specialists across the state work like this with partners in many beneficial ways. Check out your local office to see what yours is up to.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO ADD NEW COLOR TO YOUR LANDSCAPE that comes back year after year, take a look at Captivating Summer Perennials for suggestions. I can just see that Helenium as a backdrop to a couple of pots of fall chrysanthemums (aka mums). I agree though, that its other name – Sneezeweed – would be pretty hard to live down. Oh, and they attract pollinators and are deer- and rabbit-resistant. What’s not to like?!

 

AS WITH MANY EVENTS THIS YEAR AND TO KEEP EVERYONE AS SAFE AS POSSIBLE, THE K-STATE BEEF STOCKER FIELD DAY will be held in a virtual format on Thursday, Oct. 1. Register now to hear about strategies to make alternative ration ingredient changes work; hear the latest beef cattle market outlook; and learn about the economic, nutrition and management aspects of limit feeding. Wes Ishmael of Beef Magazine and Cattle Current will serve as moderator and Mike Day, head of K-State’s Department of Animal Sciences and Industry and Dale Blasi, professor and K-State Research and Extension beef specialist will provide a welcome and overview. We’ll miss the prairie oysters and Call Hall ice cream but will look forward to partaking next year!

 

FARMERS WERE ALREADY UNDER STRESS FROM LOW COMMODITY PRICES, WEATHER CHALLENGES AND TRADE DISPUTES last spring. Then COVID-19 and implications for agricultural production and markets came calling. And that doesn’t even take into account that some parents are now filling in as teacher’s aides or, in some cases, teachers if the children are learning from home. Among the organizations available for farmers and their families who could use some confidential help with managing farm finances, working with lenders and government agencies and legal representation is Kansas Agricultural Mediation Services or KAMS. Contact KAMS at 1-800-321-FARM (3276) or kams@ksu.edu.

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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. 3, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we shed light on the challenges of going back to school in the midst of a pandemic, the Mediterranean Diet, 2020 Census, harvesting and roasting sunflower seeds, spice girls (aka cattle) and sugarcane aphids in sorghum. 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

NOTE: I’m taking a break next week so will be back in touch on Thursday, Sept. 17. Until then, have a great couple of weeks and stay safe!

Better Living, Better Communities

WHETHER YOUR KIDDOS ARE HEADING INTO THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR completely online, are in-person or a hybrid of the two, there’s likely plenty of stress going around. If they’re attending school completely or partially online, you are likely playing the role of teacher’s aide, technology support person, snack and lunch maker, head cheerleader and other myriad roles. And oh, by the way, at the same time you’re probably also trying to do a fulltime demanding job for your company or organization. A K-State child development specialist encourages parents to maintain routines (kids need ‘em … we all need ‘em) and to cut themselves a little slack during this incredibly challenging pandemic situation in the Sound Living radio segment on Back to School Challenges. It even made me feel better, though my kids flew the coop awhile back.

 

IN THESE DAYS WHERE WE’RE SPENDING MORE TIME AT HOME, AND ONE DAY RUNS INTO THE NEXT with little to define the edges, this might be a good time to change things up regarding what we eat. I don’t know about you, but I need constant reminders about getting and staying on track to eat more healthfully. This basic fact sheet on the Mediterranean diet is a good start. It even includes a couple of recipes that actually sound good! This particular item is from the Dickinson County extension office, but your own local extension office will have good information on nutritious and tasty ways to be healthy, too. If you’re not familiar with what they have to offer, give them a try.

 

ONE MORE WORD ABOUT THE 2020 CENSUS: PLEASE COMPLETE IT IF YOU HAVEN’T ALREADY. If you’re wondering why it matters so much … or even how to participate if you haven’t already, take a look at Kansascounts.org or Impact in Your Community. As I mentioned before, there are only a very few questions … it truly takes only a couple of minutes to complete it. At stake are billions of dollars over the next 10 years in federal funding for our communities across the state, so I encourage you to get online and be counted.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

SOMETIMES MY BLOG ITEMS COULD GO IN EITHER THE FIRST OR SECOND SECTION. That’s the case with this one because it’s about growing, cooking and eating, which is kind of the point of fruit and vegetable gardening, right? And farming in general!? This time what caught my attention is a short item in the horticulture newsletter on harvesting and roasting sunflower seeds. I’ve done this with pumpkin seeds (remember, kids?) but not sunflower seeds. If you try it, let me know how it goes. In this edition you’ll also find short articles on asparagus and rhubarb in autumn, fertilizing strawberries, Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti, using compost and several tree-related items, plus a link to a video on overseeding your lawn.

RETURN OF THE SPICE GIRLS?! LAST WEEK I WROTE ABOUT SPICES FOR HUMANS, including health benefits, but I’ve just found this interesting study on using spices in cattle production. The idea is part of a larger effort to find alternatives to antibiotics and chemicals used in raising cattle. And guess what?! It turns out that when a little garlic and a few other spices were added to heifers’ mineral supplement, their average daily gains were higher than those on the control mineral without spices. Plus, overall, the spice girls (heifers 🙂 had fewer ticks, so the spices may have had a repellent effect.

 

JUST A FEW SHORT YEARS AGO SUGARCANE APHIDS MOVED INTO KANSAS and despite their name, also developed an appetite for our sorghum crop. These tiny bugs can reduce crop yields and kill young sorghum plants. And according to an Agronomy eUpdate article, they have been found again this year in several southwest and central Kansas counties. The “honeydew” secreted by these sweet-sounding but important pests can even gum up combines and disrupt harvest. For photos, a map of where they’ve been seen so far this summer, plus background and management tips, take a look.

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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 – Aug. 27, 2020

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In today’s Better Kansas, we share information on cooking with herbs and spices; saving, sharing and budgeting; wheel bugs; Kansas Forest Service tree and shrub sale; a soybean disease and recent agricultural research in southwest 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

MAYBE YOU’RE ONE OF THOSE COOKS WHO JUST THROWS THINGS TOGETHER and the result is always absolutely scrumptious? I’m so envious! Many of the rest of us are less adventurous and can use some tips. Seasoning with herbs and spices is a wonderful resource that suggests which flavors tend to go with particular meats or vegetables, plus really useful information about health benefits of some herbs and spices. There are even tips about growing them and storing them. Did you know that turmeric fights inflammation? And cinnamon inhibits foodborne bacteria? Things to think about … and live with.

LAST WEEK I SHARED AN ITEM ON HOLIDAY SHOPPING. It’s never too early! Just don’t do like I do occasionally and put those early purchases in a closet, only to be forgotten until after the gift-giving occasion. This week we delve into family budgeting. Don’t let the name deceive you…. the factsheet is relevant if you’re a family of one … aka “me, myself and I” … or a crew of 10. Take a look at Spend Some, Save Some, Share Some: Family Budgeting for tips and reminders. Plus, it has information about typical families’ spending for such expenses as housing, food, transportation and healthcare, so you get an idea how your spending and saving compares. Don’t know about you but I’m all for reminders!

YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED, I LIKE WRITING ABOUT BUGS and this week I’m bringing information about wheel bugs, also called assassin bugs. Honestly, I just really like the names. Apparently, they’re all around us. It sounds like they don’t go out of their way to get in OUR way, but they’re intimidating enough I’d probably steer clear if I saw one. Unfortunately for a lot of other insects, these bugs are voracious predators that feed on caterpillars, beetles, aphids, ladybird beetles and honey bees.

Better Farming, Ranching and Gardening

WITH SEPTEMBER COMES THE START OF THE KANSAS FOREST SERVICE TREE AND SHRUB SEEDLING SALE. The sale starts Sept. 1 and is a great way to get low-cost tree and shrub seedlings that can be used as conservation plantings. Think windbreaks, wildlife habitat, timber plantations or riparian (streambank) plantings – anyplace where you need a number of trees or shrubs to enhance the environment on your property. A wide variety of species is available, everything from Bur oak to False Indigo to Shagbark Hickory plus many others. Some are even designated as supportive of butterflies, bees or other pollinators. The trees come in packages of 25 per species. For more information, take a look at a recent news article or order on the Kansas Forest Service website.

 

A DISEASE FIRST FOUND IN SOYBEANS IN 1971 CALLED SUDDEN DEATH SYNDROME is showing up in Kansas this summer. Fields in the Kansas River Valley are reportedly affected by the soilborne fungus which can cut yields by up to 25%. SDS favors wet conditions, so is usually most severe in irrigated fields or dryland areas that received significant rain. And interestingly … it tends to be most severe on well-managed fields that have a high yield potential. Apparently, it knows a good thing when it sees it.

 

“KANSAS IS A VERY BIG STATE,” said anyone who’s ever driven across it. Plus, differences in the weather and soils from one part of the state to another mean farming in southwest Kansas, where it tends to be drier, is different than farming in southeast or northeast Kansas, which typically receive more precipitation. That’s part of why agricultural research is conducted in various parts of the state – to see how new crop varieties and management practices are suited for particular areas. Soybeans that do well in northeast Kansas may underperform in southwest areas and vice versa. Check out some of the latest southwest findings in the K-State Southwest Research-Extension Reports.

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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/