Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Practicing Gratitude as a New Year's Resolution

by Nadine Sigle

Each year many of us make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, or exercise more. This year I’m going to try something different. My New Year’s resolution will be to practice gratitude. I think the following article from KidsHealth.org really sums it up.

3 Ways to Practice Gratitude

Everyone can benefit from making an effort to practice gratitude every day. These 3 steps can help you start feeling more grateful, and appreciative of the good things in your life:
  1. Notice good things, look for them, appreciate them.
  2. Savor, absorb, and really pay attention to those good things.
  3. Express your gratitude to yourself, write it down, or thank someone.
Notice the Good Things in Your Life

Start to notice and identify the things you are grateful for. Tune in to the small everyday details of your life and notice the good things you might sometimes take for granted.

Try these ideas:
  • Each day, think of 3 things you are grateful for. Nature. People. Community. Shelter. Creature comforts like a warm bed or a good meal. It’s amazing what you notice when you focus on feeling grateful.
  • Start a gratitude journal. Making a commitment to writing down good things each day makes it more likely that we will notice good things as they happen.
  • Practice gratitude rituals. Some people say grace before a meal. Pausing in gratitude before eating doesn’t have to be religious. It’s a simple habit that helps us notice and appreciate the blessing of food on the table.
Once you’re aware of the blessings of everyday life, the next step is to savor them.

Savor the Feeling of Gratitude

There are moments when you naturally, right then and there, feel filled with gratitude. These are moments when you say to yourself, “Oh, wow, this is amazing!” or “How great is this!”

Pause. Notice and absorb that feeling of true, genuine gratitude. Let it sink in. Savor your blessings in the moment they happen.

Express Gratitude

Expressing gratitude is more than courtesy, manners, or being polite. It’s about showing your heartfelt appreciation. When you thank someone, you’re also practicing the first two gratitude skills: you’ve noticed something good, and you’ve genuinely appreciated it.

Try this:
  • Show your appreciation to someone who did something nice. Say “it was really kind of you to. . . .,” “I really appreciated it when you taught me. . . ,” or “Thank you for being there when. . .” You also can write your gratitude in a letter.
  • Express gratitude by doing a kindness. Gratitude might inspire you to return a favor, or act with kindness or thoughtfulness. Or you might see a situation when you can “pay it forward.” Hold the door open for a person behind you, even if it means waiting a little longer than you normally would. Do someone else’s chores without letting the person find out it was you. Notice how you feel afterward!
  • Tell people in your life how you feel, what they mean to you. You don’t have to be mushy or over-the-top. We all have our own style. But if you say what you feel in the right tone at the right moment, even a simple, “Mom, good dinner. Thanks!” means a lot.
True gratitude doesn’t leave you feeling like you owe other people something – after all, if you’ve done someone a favor, you probably don’t want the person to feel like you expect something back in return. It’s all about feeling good and creating a cycle of good.

Source: http//kidshealth.org

Happy New Year to each of you and thanks so much for being a follower of our Post Rock Extension Blog!

Nadine Sigle is a Family and Consumer Sciences Agent with the Post Rock Extension District in north central Kansas.

photo credit: Cocoabiscuit via photopin cc

Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for Cattle Producers

by Neil Cates

2013 is quickly coming to an end. The New Year represents a time to reflect upon your struggles and accomplishments of the past and to plan for what’s ahead. For a cattle producer, there can be a lot to reflect on from the previous year, such as having to wean early from lack of pasture production or a major out-break of scours within last years’ calf crop. All of these experiences lead to a great deal of thinking and planning for the upcoming year. Now is the time to evaluate your operation, and decide what changes you want to make, goals you want to set, or even keep doing something that you are currently having success with for 2014. 

So what are some New Years’ resolutions you can make as a cattle producer?

Goals and management practices of operations vary, but there are some resolutions that can apply to everybody. I think it is a pretty unanimous consensus among producers that record keeping is not something we look forward to doing, but it is an absolute necessity, so strive to keep consistent production records and detailed financial records in 2014. You cannot manage what you don’t measure.

Another goal for the New Year could be working to reduce your feed costs by managing feed losses. This can be accomplished through feed storage methods, feeding practices or both. With feed costs representing the largest expense for producers, this resolution seems like a no-brainer.

Maybe improvements are needed in your pastures? Reevaluate your stocking rates for the upcoming grazing season. Make sure to get a head start on controlling thistles and other unwanted weeds this spring. Set aside time to clear invasive trees such as cedar, hedge, and honey locust.

There can be a lot of accomplishments made in one year. Identify improvements for your operation that will have the greatest impact. It is important to keep your resolutions focused and obtainable. Now is the time to consider future changes to your operation to ensure higher profits and fewer challenges for 2014. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year.

Neil Cates is a Livestock Production Agent for Post Rock District Extension in north central Kansas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

How To Beat The Winter Blues

by Kathy Lupfer-Nielsen

If the short, gray days of winter set the stage for you or loved ones to feel down, drained of energy or extra grouchy, you may suffer from depression know appropriately as SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. SAD can start with the shortened days in September and October and ends in April or May with the days become longer and brighter.

It is SAD when you feel better when spring arrives (in contrast to regular depression that stays all year.)  Also it’s SAD if the pattern repeats at least 2 years in a row.  And if there is no other obvious cause for low mood, such as being out of work in the winter. 

Symptoms of SAD include:  feeling more tired or having lower energy; becoming irritable; having trouble waking up in the morning and craving sweets and carbohydrates.  You might also require more sleep, typically gain weight, visit the physician more and even withdraw socially.  Time to visit your physician as this type of depression can isolate you during the winter months.

SADness happens when the winter’s late dawn and early dusk cause changes in the body’s internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm.   This affects levels of mood-altering brain chemicals, including the “feel good” chemical serotonin as well as the hormone melatonin.

When you are low on serotonin, you can feel tired, get depressed, and crave carbohydrates.  Weight gain in the winter months can be a result of eating more in an attempt as you “self-medicate” to raise your serotonin and feel better.

What can you do to feel better?  According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, three treatment approaches have been proven to be beneficial in treating SAD. 

Light therapy or trying to increase your exposure to artificial light, will give your body what it needs to stay in balance.  It is important to visit with your doctor concerning light therapy and don’t diagnosis yourself or your needs. 

Another treatment can be talk therapy with a counselor or social work.  They could help you focus on changing thoughts and behaviors that contribute to SAD.  If your symptoms should that serotonin levels are really low, your doctor may recommend that you take antidepressant drugs.  Make sure that you follow your doctor’s instructions to be safe. 

Daily exercise outdoors is one inexpensive way to treat SAD and your light starvation.  The fresh air, exposure to daylight and the endorphins you release through exercise can have a positive effect on SAD sufferers.  Try for 30 to 60 minutes per day which can have many other positive health effects.  Maybe you could join a gym for the winter months.

Practice stress management strategies like slow deep breathing or taking a mini-vacation during each day or the more stressful days.  Take time to find inner peace through prayer, journaling, reading or thinking of special memories or vacations. 

Kathy Lupfer-Nielsen is a Family Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for the Post Rock District in north central Kansas. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Poinsettia Care

By Sandra Wick

Poinsettias are traditional Christmas flowering plants that will last throughout the Christmas season. With the introduction of long-lasting cultivars, the popularity of the poinsettia has increased significantly. In Mexico, the poinsettia is a perennial shrub that will grow 10-15 feet tall. The showy colored parts of poinsettias that most people think of as the flowers are actually colored bracts (modified leaves).

Just how do I take care of my Christmas Poinsettia?

To help the beautiful poinsettia plant to keep healthy and looking great for your holiday decorations, there are a few guidelines to follow.

Be sure the plant is well wrapped when you take it outside on your trip home because exposure to low temperatures for even a short time can injure leaves and bracts. Unwrap the plant as soon as possible because the petioles (stems of the leaves and bracts) can droop and twist if the plant is left wrapped for too long.

For maximum plant life, place your poinsettia near a sunny window or other well-lighted areas. Do not let any part of the plant touch cold window panes. Poinsettias are tropical plants and are usually grown at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F. in greenhouses, so this temperature range, in the home, is best for long plant life. High temperatures will shorten the life of the bracts. Poinsettias do not tolerate warm or cold drafts so keep them away from radiators, air registers, and fans as well as open windows or doors. Place your poinsettia in a cooler room at night (55 to 60 degrees F is ideal) to extend the blooming time.

Examine the soil daily and water only when it feels dry by placing your finger about an inch deep in the potting soil. If it’s dry at that depth, use lukewarm water to replace the soil moisture. Stop applying when water begins to run out of the pot’s drainage hole(s). Discard the drainage water. Poinsettias do not like to have “wet feet”. If you don't water enough, the plant will wilt and the lower leaves will drop. If you water too much the lower leaves will yellow and then drop. If you keep your plant for several months, apply a soluble houseplant fertilizer, once or twice a month. However, do not fertilize when the poinsettia is in bloom (the center part of the plant).

Poinsettias can be re-flowered the following Christmas, but unless a yearlong schedule of care is observed, the results usually are not good. For such a schedule, continue normal watering of the soil until the first of April, and then allow it to dry gradually. Do not let it get so dry at any time that the stems shrivel. Following the drying period, store the plant in a cool (60 degrees F), airy location on its side or upright. If you want the complete re-blooming care schedule after April, simply contact any Post Rock Extension District Office.

There are more than 100 varieties of poinsettia, and the ones available change often as improved and novelty varieties are introduced.

So are Poinsettias poisonous?

Despite rumors to the contrary, Poinsettias are not poisonous. A study at Ohio State University showed that a 50-pound child would have to eat more than a pound-and-a-quarter of Poinsettia leaves (500 to 600 leaves) to have any side effects. The most common side effects that have been reported from poinsettia ingestion are upset stomach and vomiting. The leaves are reportedly not very tasty, so it's highly unlikely that kids or even pets would be able to eat that many! But be aware that the leaves can still be a choking hazard for children and pets.

K-State Research and Extension has a publication, “Home Care of Poinsettias” available in your local Extension Office or online at: www.ksre.ksu.edu that can provide you with additional information.

Sandra Wick is an Agriculture Natural Resources Extension Agent for the Post Rock District in north central Kansas. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Home Modifications for a Holiday Gift

by Kathy Lupfer-Nielsen

Perhaps you need a gift  idea for a parent or grandparent aging in their home?  If so, you can find several ideas in the KSRE publication “Simple Home Modification for Aging in Place” written by Carol Ann Crouch, Scott County FCS Agent.  Check out Carol Ann’s publication for several simple ideas for their homes.  She has also included more elaborate or expensive ideas. 

Helping your relative assess the safety of their homes could be a first step.  The publication has some simple, almost no cost ideas such as removing throw rugs or helping pick up clutter which could be a falls hazard. 

Other suggestions could include purchasing a touch lamp for their bedside table or even a shower seat.  If you’re handy, helping add handrails in the hallway or grab bars in the bathrooms could be a nice gift.
Ideas such as replacing doorknobs with lever-style handles or building a ramp or berm entry would be more costly.  Just look at this publication for more ideas of how to help your relative stay in their own home longer.  It will save them money, make their environment safer and give them more independence.  Check out this publication at http://www.aging.ksu.edu/p.aspx?tabid=199

Kathy Lupfer-Nielsen is a Family Consumer Sciences Extension Agent for the Post Rock District in north central Kansas.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Post Rock District 4-H Represented at 2013 Kansas Youth Leadership Forum

Six Post Rock 4-H members attended the forum held at Rock Springs Ranch, Friday, November 22-24, 2013.  The Kansas 4-H Youth Leadership Forum is designed for youth ages 14-18,  and included speakers, workshops, consulting groups and the election of the State 4-H Council.  
Attending this year were: Karsen Odle, Sidney Odle, Jillian Worm, Seth Hachmeister, Emily Cox, and Cheyenne Nelson.

Emily Cox and Seth Hachmeister both ran for the 2014 KYLF Council.   The state KYLF Council consists of 12 members, three from each of the four Areas.  Seth was elected and as a council member he will attend KYLF meetings, participate in conference calls and attend various events throughout the year.

Cheyenne, Jillian, Sidney & Karsen hang out on the bunks at Rock Springs.

Post Rock attendees were asked what the liked best about the forum and Rock Springs Ranch:
  • Jillian Worm: “Meeting new people.  You get to experience what others like.  I also like the food at Rock Springs.”
  • Emily Cox: “I enjoyed KYLF because I lead a fantastic and crazy group.  I learned that if you fail keep on trying.  My favorite part of Rock Springs is the scenery.”
  • Karsen Odle: “I had fun at KYLF because I got to see my best friend and meet new people.  I don’t have a favorite part of Rock Springs…I love everything about it.  It is like my “second home in 4-H”.
  • Sidney Odle:  “At KYLF I was able to meet new people.  This was my first year to go.  I had a blast.  I love Rock Springs and everyone who works there.  I definitely will come back.”
  • Seth Hachmeister:  “My favorite part was my group and meeting members of council I’ll be serving with.  I absolutely love the Rock Springs staff and food.  It is the greatest.”
  • Cheyenne Nelson:  “My favorite part was the food and getting to meet new people.  I love how everyone was so energetic and exciting.”

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Healthy Homemade Kneadless Breadmaking

by Nadine Sigle
I love the smell and flavor of homemade bread. With the holidays here, our time is filled with so many family activities we often feel we don’t have time to make homemade bread. Following is a kneadless bread recipe which is tasty and only takes a few minutes a day to make. And with this bread recipe, you get all of the advantages of homemade bread – the smell, the taste, the healthfulness, and the money savings.

Another reason I really enjoy this recipe, is that I can mix up a batch of dough and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Then I can take out a portion of the dough, shape it, let it rise, bake it and have fresh bread ready for any meal. It’s that simple!!

Kneadless Wheat Bread – Yields 3 one pound loaves

Printable Recipe

Whole wheat flour – 5 ½ cups (could be white wheat or red wheat) 
All-purpose flour, unbleached – 2 cups 
Granulated yeast – 1 ½ tablespoons (2 packets) 
Table salt – 2 teaspoons 
Granulated sugar – 2 tablespoons 
Vital wheat gluten – ¼ cup
Lukewarm water – 4 cups

1. Measure the dry ingredients: Gently scoop the flour into a dry ingredient measuring cup and then sweep the top level with a knife or spatula. Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, sugar and vital wheat gluten in a 5 quart bowl, or preferably, a reseal able, lidded plastic food container or a food-grade bucket (a five quart ice cream bucket works great). 


2. Mix with water – kneading is unnecessary. Add luke-warm water and stir into the dry ingredients. You will want to use a heavy long handled spoon to do this. Mix until all the flour is worked in. This could also be done with a food processor or a heavy duty mixer with a paddle. You are finished when everything is uniformly moist.

3. Allow to rise. Cover the dough with the lid (not airtight). If you are using a bowl, cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse (or at least flatten on top), approximately 2 hours. After rising, refrigerate the lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days.

4. On baking day, I spray my hands with cooking spray or lightly oil them with vegetable oil and then pinch off one third of the dough and quickly form into a loaf or a ball. This only takes 20 to 30 seconds. You don’t want to work the dough so much that all of the gas escapes. It will be very sticky. Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper or the loaf in an oiled or sprayed loaf pan. Then I lightly spray the top of the dough to keep from drying out while rising. Allow to rise until doubled in size. (About 1 to 2 hours depending upon the temperature of the room.)

5. Thirty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F. If you desire a crisper, thicker crust, bake the bread on a pizza stone. Preheat the pizza stone 30 minutes and when ready to bake slide the parchment paper onto the pizza stone. If you want a softer, more tender crust, bake either in a Dutch over which has been preheated for 30 minutes or bake on the preheated pizza stone and cover with an inverted metal bowl. If using the Dutch oven, place the dough while still on the parchment paper into the preheated Dutch oven and cover with the lid. Some Dutch ovens have plastic knobs. Make sure it can withstand the high temperature or remove the knob and plug the whole with a small piece of aluminum foil. If baking in a loaf pan simply place in the oven on the rack.

6. Bake the bread for 30 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the bread with a thermometer. It should read between 195° to 200°F. If the internal temperature is lower than this bake a few minutes longer until it reaches temperature. If it is above the 195° to 200°F then reduce the baking time a few minutes. 

7. Allow the bread to completely cool on a wire rack for best flavor, texture and slicing.

8. Store the remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next 14 days. The longer the dough is stored in the refrigerator it begins to ferment and take on sourdough characteristics.

Happy Holidays to all and thanks for allowing me to share this method of bread making with you. If you have questions or comments don’t hesitate to post. 

Nadine Sigle is a Family Consumer Science Extension Agent with the Post Rock Extension District in Kansas.