Spring Thinking

Spring has sprung, Bosque County!  Warmer, longer days and sunny skies are here and that means its time for more outdoor activities. The United States Department of Health and Human Services recommends that adults reach at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, which is just over 20 minutes a day.  Physical activity isn’t limited to getting on the treadmill or lifting weights but also includes things like riding a bike through the neighborhood, swimming, dancing and even gardening!  Outdoor chores like gardening, mowing the lawn, and spreading mulch are not only great ways to get outdoors and be active but to also spend time with our families and friends.

While we are in the outdoors it is important to keep sun safety and hydration in mind.  Sunlight contains UVA and UVB rays that can be dangerous to our skin if overexposed.  Some sunscreens protect against just one type of UV light, so make sure to use one that protects against both UVA and UVB.  Apply sunscreen 20 minutes prior to sun exposure and then every two hours when in the sun.  UV light can also damage our eyes so when you’re outside, utilize hats with a wide brim and sunglasses.  Make sure to drink plenty of fluids through the day, and especially when you are out and about in the sun and performing physical activity.  As small as it may seem, being thirsty is the first sign that you are becoming dehydrated.  Adequate hydration will help keep you going through the day by facilitating body temperature regulation and the conversion of food into energy.

With outdoor activities comes the possibility of children playing outside and near the street.  Exercise caution when driving through our neighborhoods and pay critical attention to your vehicle’s speed.  Children’s smaller size can make them difficult for drivers to see, and often children do not see oncoming traffic due to parked cars, tall bushes or shrubs, or they just forget to look.  And for parents, teachers, and young adults that look out for children, it is time to remind our kiddoes about street safety:  if and when they can cross, to look both ways carefully before crossing the street, and where it is appropriate to cross the street.  By watching our speeds and being cautious on both sides, we can have a safer, more fun springtime.

Spring is a time to get out there and have fun, so whether you plan on getting some more exercise in, spending some time out gardening, catching some rays, or exploring Bosque County, remember to do it safely and responsible.

Oak Wilt 101

Come learn everything you need to know about oak wilt and tree maintenance! Texas A&M AgriLife Extension of Bosque County will be hosting a hosting an Oak Wilt 101 Workshop on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at the Bosque Valley Golf Club, located at 347 CR 1055 in Meridian. Registration will start at 8:45AM with the program to follow at 9:00AM and should conclude by noon.

This program will feature Renee Burks and Rachel McGregor of the Texas Forestry Service covering tree maintenance, proper pruning, tree disease and will include a hands-on demonstration for preparing and treating an infected tree for oak wilt. One General and One Drift CEU will be offered for individuals holding a Private Applicator’s Pesticide License.

Cost of the program is $10.00/person and can be paid at the door. For any question or to confirm your attendance please contact the Bosque County Extension Office at 254-435-2331 or complete the form below:

National School Lunch Program – Don’t Yell at the Lunch Lady

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted, state administered meal program that provides nutritionally balanced low-cost or no-cost meals to children in schools every day. Signed into law under President Truman in 1946, it assisted roughly 7.1 million children in its first year. In fiscal year 2018 the NSLP reached just under 30 million children and provided 4.8 billion lunches.

This program is in place to help keep our children hunger-free, healthy, and give them the energy to perform well in school and extra-curricular activities. It has been shown time and time again that students who consume a nutritionally sound diet are more likely to have higher attendance and perform better academically than students who skip meals, don’t eat enough or make poor diet choices.

This is where the NSLP comes into play. The federal government through the NSLP puts restrictions on sodium, added sugar, and saturated fat, aspects of a diet related to increased risk for heart disease and obesity, and minimum requirements for whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and proteins, those portions of a diet related to increased satiety and lasting energy. These requirements and restrictions change slightly based on the grade of a child to reflect the dietary needs of those age groups.

School lunches are kept at the low prices they are because of federal compensation given to the school districts based on how many qualifying meals they serve. For a school taking part in the NSLP to receive this compensation, a qualifying meal is one that falls under the restrictions and meets the requirements of the NSLP. Children are also eligible for free- or reduced-cost meals based on their participation through certain federal programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The NSLP is constantly changing to provide the best fit for American schools. The nutritional requirements had a major revamp as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and, more recently, were relaxed in 2018 to give schools’ greater autonomy in food choices. These changes come from the research-based guidelines given by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service and from there school district personnel make the changes we see in our schools’ menus.

4-H Youth and the Lucky Clover Golf Tournament

The youth are our future.  Everyone has heard or made that statement before.  Well, now is the time to invest in our future!  The youth of Bosque County 4-H continue moving forward to the next steps in their lives. Those steps may be high school, college, technical school or the work force.  The 4-H continues preparing youth not only to be productive members of society but confident leaders throughout their lives. The 4-H is dependent upon YOU to make this possible, through donations, sponsorship and volunteering your time and knowledge.

Here is a great chance to continue, or to begin, making a difference in the lives of the youth in Bosque County.  The Lucky Clover Golf Tournament is Bosque 4-H’s largest fundraiser of the year and supports many different youth development programs.  Last year’s tournament helped 5 youth attend Texas 4-H Congress, 14 youth attend County Camp, 5 youth attend Leadership Lab, and over 75 different individuals compete in multiple County, District and State 4-H competitions.  It also supplied 6 graduating seniors with college Scholarships. You are making a difference here!!

The 21st Annual Lucky Clover Golf Tournament will be held at Bosque Valley Golf Course on Saturday, May 18th.  You can register as an individual and be placed on a team, or submit any or all team members with required information and entry fee.  You can register by completing the form at the bottom of this page, or by calling the Extension office (254) 435-2331, or at Bosque Valley Golf Course.  The cost is $50/person or $200/team which includes green fees, soft drinks, sausage wraps and a rib-eye dinner (golf cart is extra).  The prizes are:   First – $280, Second -$240, Third – $200, plus 3 random $100 payouts.  Awards will follow each flight.

Playing in the tournament is not the only way to contribute.  You can also join many individuals and businesses that see the value in supporting the 4-H youth in Bosque County by sponsoring the tournament with various donations – any contribution is valued.  The 4-H Youth Development Program exists to raise up future leaders, instill character, and teach responsibility to our young.  Come and help make a difference in the youth of Bosque County!  For more information please call the Extension office at 254-435-2331.

Complete this form to enter the tournament:

Private Applicators Pesticide Training

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Bosque County, will be hosting a Private Applicators Pesticide training on Tuesday, March 26, 2019 located at 104 S Fuller in Meridian.  Registration will begin at 8:15 a.m. with the training starting at 8:30 a.m. and continue until noon.

 

The training is open to the public. The cost of the class is $75.00.  A Laws and Regulation Manual and a Private Applicator Study guide is mandatory, and included in the class cost. It is recommended that the manuals and study guide be picked up at the Bosque County Extension Office, 104 S Fuller, Meridian, Texas, prior to the training.

To register or if you need more information, please call the Bosque County Extension Office at (254) 435-2331 or fill in the form below:

Individuals with disabilities who require an auxiliary aid, service or other accommodations in order to participate in Extension sponsored events are encouraged to contact the County Extension office a week prior to the class to determine how reasonable accommodations may be made.

Soil Testing

February has brought into the Extension Office an increase in calls and visits to collect soil sample collection bags. With the warmer temperatures recently, and spring on the horizon, people are starting to think about fertilizing pastures and getting their gardens ready for planting.

The best thing a person can do prior to purchasing seeds, fertilizers, etc. is to take a soil sample. This is an easy process and can be used to estimate the kinds and amounts of soil nutrients available to plants. A soil test can also be used as an aid in determining fertilizer needs. Properly conducted soil sampling and testing can be cost-effective indicators of the types and amounts of fertilizer and lime needed to improve crop yield. The effects of adding a fertilizer often depend on the level of nutrients already present in the soil. If a soil is very low in a particular nutrient, yield will probably be increased if that nutrient is added. By comparison, if the soil has high initial nutrient levels, fertilization will result in little, if any, increase in yield.

There are three simple steps involved in collecting a soil sample:

  • Obtain a sample collection bag and submittal form, bags are free and available at a County Extension Office.
  • Collect your sample. To get a composited sample that represents the entire area roughly 10 cores or slices of soil should be taken at random points to a depth of 6 inches. This can be done using a spade, trowel or soil prob. The soil collected from each of the 10 collection sites in a sample site is then mixed together in a bucket and used to fill the collection bag.
  • Complete the submittal form and mail to the Soil, Water and Forage Testing Laboratory in College Station. Turnaround time for results is roughly one to two weeks.

Once you have your results you will know what your soil is lacking or in excess of concerning nutrients. Your pH and salinity levels will also be reported which will aid in selection of the appropriate plants and fertilizers for your sample area. Once you receive your analysis report you can also contact your local County Extension Agent, Chelsea Dorward at 254-435-2331, for interpretation help.

Are You Prepared?

Natural disasters are something we never know exactly when to expect, but should all be prepared for.  There are a wide range of disasters that affect the country, locally we primarily need to be prepared for the possibilities of flooding and tornadoes.  We’ve seen recent natural disasters around the country that have affected thousands of people and many of them were not equipped to take care of themselves when outside help couldn’t reach them.

Flooding can happen any season of the year.  The true-blue Texas tornado season spans from April on through June, but given the right circumstances, tornadoes can spring up most anytime. With Bosque County lying at the southern end of “Tornado Alley”, a region of the central United States that is subject to an increased frequency of tornadoes, it will pay to be ahead of the curve and be well prepared for natural disasters.

The easiest thing we can do to prepare for any natural disaster is to attain and maintain a natural disaster preparedness kit. The time to prepare for disaster is now, before the time hits.  A kit should contain enough food, potable water, extra clothing, food utensils, tools, and first aid to provide for every member of the household for at least 3 days. It would be better to have at least 7 days’ worth of materials as with tornadoes and extreme weather comes the issue of getting reliable electricity and clean running water back.

 It is important to maintain hydration and energy during and after a natural disaster. Prepare your kit so that you have at least one gallon of potable water per person per day or the means to make water potable (i.e. filtration system, boiling, iodide tablets). A person can live without adequate food intake for several weeks but only a few days without water. Pack foods that will require very little to no preparation. Foods like protein/granola bars, dried fruits, canned chicken or tuna, canned vegetables are excellent choices for kits because they are relatively shelf stable and provide long term energy. Remember to check your kit periodically to make sure all foodstuffs, batteries, and first aid materials are still viable. The last thing you want is to dig into that kit when you need it and find half of it to be spoiled or expired.

As an old coach of mine once said, “Prior preparation prevents poor performance.” When it comes to emergency situations, having a plan beforehand is a small measure that can affect lives.  A plan should include where the natural disaster kit is, where to shelter in place, and where to meet if you and your family are separated. Let family members and neighbors know your plan so that they know where and how to best help you if need be.

Coming back from a tornado or other form of natural disaster can be tough and sometimes just as dangerous as the disaster itself. If forced to evacuate your home, before returning check with local authorities to ensure that the structure is safe to enter, the gas and electrical lines are secure, and that the water supply is safe to use. Check your food supply before eating it. Dry foods should have no indication that water has gotten into them, frozen foods should have no ice crystals, an indication of thawing and refreezing, and that all cold foods have not spoiled.

For more information about disaster safety or health and wellness, contact Chris at chris.coon@ag.tamu.edu or at 254-435-2331.

 

Choose to Eat Variety in a Gray Season

The winter season not only brings gray skies but can also bring gray mealtimes. With a lack of fresh fruits and vegetables, and with colder weather, people tend to turn to those soul-warming dishes that have a distinct lack of vegetables and fruits with them. The United States Department of Agriculture recommends that half of your plate should consist of vegetables and fruits, or 2 ½ cups of vegetables and 2 cups of fruits throughout the day. A barrier to reaching this daily goal for some people is the thought that there is no truly fresh produce in the winter time, but that is just not the case. Wintertime in the United States can yield some truly wonderful vegetables like beets, carrots, leafy greens like kale, squash and sweet potatoes, and even some fruits like citrus varieties, apples, and pears.

A problem with winter produce is that they can be unfamiliar. People don’t know how to incorporate them into a meal, and so skip them altogether. The website for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education contains a wide variety of information on low-income solutions to nutrition and wellness issues. The site’s Seasonal Produce Guide is a great way to find out what’s available right now, how nutritious it is, and even provides recipes for those fruits and vegetables that might be a bit foreign to us.

A popular misconception that goes along with our thoughts on winter produce consumption is that fresh produce is the only way to go. Fresh, frozen, canned, and dried produce, contrary to popular belief, will have roughly the same nutritional composition. With modern food processing methods, produce that is not bound for the fresh section of the supermarket will be in the can, freezer bag, or dehydrated the same day it was picked at its peak of freshness. So those fresh blueberries you have a craving for will have just about the same amount of nutrition as the frozen variety, and typically for a lower cost. Caution should be paid to canned vegetables and fruits as they are typically processed with added salt or sugar respectively as a preservative. When shopping for canned vegetables, opt for the “Reduced” or “Low” sodium varieties and for canned fruits, aim for options that are canned with “No Sugar Added” or “in Light Syrup”. Even when purchasing these options, as it is when you buy fresh, washing produce with water will reduce the added salt and sugar content, as well as remove any physical contaminants that ended up in the can.

While we are still mired in winter and longing for some consistent warm weather, keep these things in mind: there is produce available on the market that is both fresh and economical even in winter; half of your plate should be fruits and vegetables; and canned, frozen, and dried are just as good for you as fresh.

For more information on what fruits and vegetables are fresh throughout the year please visit https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide. For more information regarding health and wellness please contact Chris, County Extension Agent in Family and Community Health at 254-435-2331 or at chris.coon@ag.tamu.edu.

 

Ag and Natural Resources Newsletter Coming

The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service – Bosque County will be starting a newsletter focused on issues related to agriculture and natural resources as well as upcoming events.  If you are interested in receiving this electronic bi-monthly newsletter, please CLICK HERE to sign up.  The first edition will be emailed out on March 1, 2019.

International demand keeps Texas beef prices stable

Submitted from Writer: Cody Weems

Though markets aren’t likely to take off in 2019, cattle experts believe an increasing global demand for beef should keep prices steady.

Dozens of cattle producers converged on Cameron on Thursday for the 38th annual Central Texas Cow-Calf Clinic, where market experts discussed about the state of the industry.

Jason Johnson, an economist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, said herds are likely near the end of the growth period that followed the 2012 drought. As supplies have grown, he said the growing international demand has kept prices from taking too big of a hit.

“One of the main reasons why prices have held as well as they have in the face of additional supply is undoubtedly the success we’ve had in the export market,” Johnson said. “It can’t be reiterated how important that market has been. While the demand in the U.S. has been very strong, it is the export market that has allowed us to absorb that additional supply that has come online.”

Though the markets likely won’t take a dip, Johnson said producers shouldn’t expect a major surge either.

“We’re not in a position where we can expect a giant rally because of the excess supplies, but we’re not in a position where those excess supplies are driving prices down further. We’re pretty much in a sideways pattern.”

In 2020, however, cattle numbers will start to drop and should inversely affect prices, he said.

“Next year, we should be able to talk a little more optimistically about the end of that cycle — the declining herd to come and prices going up,” Johnson said.

Jason Cleere, a Texas A&M University beef cattle specialist, said international markets will continue to drive prices in the United States.

“Ninety-six percent of the world’s population lives outside of the U.S. When you talk about economic power, the U.S. is extremely powerful, but we also have to look at opportunities around the world,” Cleere said. “When it comes to beef, the export markets play a big role in the process we see in our cattle.”

He added that the U.S. has a reputation of quality products that it can use as leverage in the international markets.

“The advantage that we have with American beef is the overall quality. That’s a selling point we have to make,” Cleere said.