Monday, March 31, 2014

Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?

by Kathy Lupfer-Nielsen, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

Recently I had the opportunity to share this Minnesota Extension program at Hoxie and Hays as a part of “Preserving the Family with Estate Planning.” My noon hour presentation was just one of the five sessions for families on such topics as Estate Planning Basics, Getting the Family Talking, Leaving a Legacy and Farm Transition Planning. I was reminded of the personal items I received from my grandparents as well as the process of cleaning out my 94 year old mother-in-law’s house.

Ariel had been the family historian for four families that homesteaded in the Denmark, Kansas community during 1875 to 1890’s. Needless to say, there was LOTS of stuff to sort through and pass on to family members or community groups such as the church, museum or some of her teaching friends.

Money and titled property can be easily divided among heirs, but personal possessions are another story. You might not realize your son would like some of the kitchen items or a granddaughter might like some of Grandpa’s tools. Or your children might not want any of those “old items” as we found out in dealing with my brother- in-law…they weren’t sentimental and didn’t want Kansas items in their Florida home. But thankfully some of their children wanted Grandma Ariel’s family treasures.

I welcomed the various lists I found among her items and tried to consolidate the lists. One list of her thimble collection had been started in 1978 with the last list I located from 2006. This last list she had made room by room and so that was most helpful as I took pictures and emailed them around the country to see if her designated receiver really wanted it. If the nephews wanted old Nielsen family furniture then we saved it for them…if nobody wanted it, we sold items through a local auction house.

I will admit to saving some items for my own children that they didn’t want at the moment but will hopefully want when they are older…and if not I guess they will have to sell it when we’re gone or give it away.

Items that were a part of the county’s history, we gave to the local museum as well as to the Denmark Hall. Some items, like old Christmas decorations or empty coffee cans were taken to the landfill or recycle.

While I’m detailed oriented I didn’t realize how emotional I would get sorting through her life and their family history. I learned more about the Nielsen family…but much more about my mother-in-law and realized what an exceptional person she was…something I didn’t always realize as I was raising my children and dealing with her as a mother in law.

The estate money and land was dispersed as per her wishes. And I did the best I could with all the items. What I learned from this is, even though there may be several in the family, this work usually comes down to one or two people to see the job through. One person to decide and then of course, include others via email, phone or just in helping load and move items.

It’s helpful to have a list…so if you are sorting through your treasures, make a list. Better yet, have a person help you and tell some of the stories. Thankfully Ariel had been a good storyteller over the years, so I did know some of the stories.

But better yet, give some of your special family or personal items to your family members NOW, while you can tell them the stories and while you can see that the items are appreciated. Don’t wait give the children or grandchildren special items while you are here to enjoy that and also include the stories that make those items special.

Family items are what the glue in the family history that generations still need so they have a connection to where they came from…don’t just leave your family’s story to chance. Leave that list and share those items now while you can.

Minnesota Extension’s program, Who Gets Grandma’s Pie Plate can be located online This site also has some free articles as well as resources that can be purchased such as a workbook or DVD that your entire family can watch together, so everyone gets the same message.

We’ve all heard the saying; you really don’t know people until you’ve inherited something with them. Titled property is easy to divide but special memory pieces that several family members may want are difficult to divide. Another excellent article is here:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Hazardous Occupations Training 2014 (part 2)

by Neil Cates, Livestock Production Agent

This past Saturday, concluded the 2014 session of Hazardous Occupations Training at Carrico Implement in Beloit hosted by the Post Rock Extension District.  31 youth representing eight counties across north central Kansas completed the course.  In case you missed Part 1 of the Hazardous Occupations Training blog, this course is required for 14 and 15-year-olds, to work on a farm for someone other than their parent or legal guardian.

We started the day off Saturday with classroom lectures about: instrument and control panels, maintenance and safety checks, tractor hitches, PTO’s and hydraulics, and ATV safety. The kids then were able to get their hands dirty by physically jump-starting a tractor, hooking up a PTO shaft, and connecting implement hydraulic hoses. 

They then heard from Mike Liggett, Rolling Hills Electric, on how to handle situations they may encounter with power poles and lines while farming.  Included in his presentation was a demonstration table with “live” power lines and the effects of objects coming into contact with them.

The afternoon started off with rotating groups through four stations.  The first station and probably the class favorite, was the tractor operation.  Carrico employee’s instructed each individual on driving a new 4 wheel drive tractor through a course in the implement lot.  The Post Rock District’s training is one of few that still include tractor operation in the curriculum, which I believe is very important.  For many of the students, it was their first time operating a tractor, so to do so in an educational environment with professionals is a wonderful opportunity.

The next station was a lesson on “Equipment Dangers”.  This lesson was ran by Farm Bureau volunteers who walked the kids through the equipment lot pointing out potential hazards and conveying words of wisdom regarding various implements that the kids will be operating.  The third station involved education on maintenance.  Local farmer, Tom Deneke, instructed the kids on how to inspect and perform proper maintenance on equipment and why it is important that these checks are performed.  The final station was lunch, which was sponsored by Agco Corporation in Beloit.

The day was wrapped up with a lesson on “Tractor Safety on the Road” which was presented by one of our local Kansas Highway Patrolman.  Other afternoon lessons consisted of “Tractor Safety on the Farm” and “Farmstead Safety”. 

The 2014 Hazardous Occupations Training was a great success.  I cannot thank our great volunteers sponsors; Carrico Implement, Mitchell County Farm Bureau, Rolling Hills Electric and Agco Corporation enough for their generosity a nd support. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Celebrate National Agriculture Week March 23-29, 2014!

by Sandra L. Wick, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent

America’s farmers, ranchers and growers are some of our nation’s greatest assets. Not only do we rely on agriculture for our food, feed, fiber, and fuel, our agricultural producers preserve our environment, and help drive our national economy.


National Agriculture Week will be celebrated March 23-29, 2014 and was established to recognize American Agriculture and the abundance that our producers have provided for us. This will mark the 41st anniversary of this celebration with the theme: "Agriculture: 365 Sunrises and 7 Billion Mouths to Feed."

The truth is that we owe a debt of gratitude to the hard working men and women who provide us – and much of the world – with a safe, reliable, affordable, and abundant food supply. Agriculture is responsible for one out of every 12 jobs in America. Thanks to decades of investment, hard work and innovation, American farmers and ranchers have succeeded in continuing their quality of production with enhancing technologies that lead to increasing yields.

What’s more, America’s farmers and ranchers are the most productive in the world, helping support the strength and prosperity of our nation as a whole. American families spend only 6 or 7 cents out of every dollar on food – less than almost any other nation and half as much as in Japan or Italy. That means we have more to spend on a nicer home, to save for retirement, or to fund our children’s college education.

America’s farmers have taken extraordinary steps to take care of our nation’s natural resources. In the last 30 years alone, USDA has worked to help producers reduce soil erosion by more than 40% and agriculture has gone from being the leading cause of wetland loss to leading the entire nation in wetland restoration efforts.


Let’s focus on the agriculture in our Post Rock Extension District in the counties of Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne and Smith. Our major farm commodities, not in any particularly order, are wheat, grain sorghum, corn, beef cattle, hay crops, and soybeans.

The office of the Kansas Agricultural Statistics, in Topeka, provides acres and production data for the different commodities in each county. This is interesting information to see the total production numbers.

According to the most current Kansas Agricultural Statistics estimates, which are from the 2013 crop season, wheat and soybeans were the largest number of acres harvested in all five counties. There were over half million (634,000) acres of winter wheat harvested along with 273,000 acres of grain sorghum harvested. Yield averages were 38 bushels/acre for wheat and 87 bushels/acre for grain sorghum for the five counties of Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne and Smith. Soybean acres were at a close third ranking at 244,000 acres harvested in 2013 along with 67,000 acres of corn. Corn acres decreased significantly from 2012 to 2013 because of the dry conditions. Yield averages were 31 bushels/acre for soybeans for all 5 counties and 116 bushels/acre for corn with only Mitchell and Osborne counties reporting yield data. Beef cattle numbers (cow/calf) were at 165,000 for our five counties as of January 2013.

This information helps you understand the breakdown of the different farm commodities and their importance to the economy of the Post Rock Extension District.

For generations, America’s farmers and ranchers have helped our nation stay strong. Let’s use National Agriculture Week to recognize the important work our farmers and ranchers do for this country and the world and say, simply, “thank you”.

If you have additional questions, give me a call at 785-282-6823 or email

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sprayer Calibration

by Sandra Wick, Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent

It soon will be time to examine your fields and inventory the weeds that have invaded your wheat crop. At the recent Post Rock Extension District Sprayer Calibration Workshop featured speaker, Dr. John Slocombe, K-State Research and Extension Ag and Forage Machinery Safety specialist, encouraged producers and agribusiness employees to adopt strategies to help reduce drift to unprotected plants and crops.

The picture to the right provides several methods for producers to use to help reduce drift. Drift results in a waste of product, reduces the effectiveness of your application and can damage crops that are economically important. Pesticide that drifts off-target also can hurt wildlife and contaminate water supplies.

Basically there are two ways pesticides move downwind:

  • Vapor – When pesticides volatilize (evaporate into the air), they can move downwind as a vapor. This form of drift is related to the product, NOT to the type of application method that is used.
  • Particle – This is the movement of spray particles, or droplets, formed during application. Nozzle selection is very important depending on the product you are using.

“Atomizing” the spray solution into very small droplets will INCREASE the coverage possible, BUT you must also consider the potential for evaporation, drift, canopy penetration and deposition of the spray particles. In reality, you want a range of droplet sizes to effectively deposit the pesticide on the wide variety of plant types, sizes and shapes that you may have growing in your fields. There are six sizes of droplet sizes ranging from Very Fine (VF) to Extremely Coarse (XC). The nozzle use depends on the pesticide product you are using along with the rate, droplet size, the nozzle type and the nozzle spacing. Just remember the larger the droplet size the less risk of drift.


Strategies of reducing pesticide drift include:
  • Select nozzle to increase drop size
  • Increase flow rates – higher application rates
  • Use lower pressures
  • Use lower spray (boom) heights
  • Avoid high application speeds/rapid speed changes
  • Avoid adverse weather condition-high winds, light & variable winds, calm air
  • Consider using buffer zones
  • Consider using new technologies-drift reduction nozzles-drift reduction additives-shield, electrostatics, air-assist
K-State Research and Extension has several excellent publications, free of charge, on sprayer management including: “Droplet Size Calibration: A New Approach to Effective Spraying”; “Strategies to Reduce Spray Drift”; and “Calibrating Boom Sprayers”. For more information on Sprayer Management or information from the recent Sprayer Calibration Workshop, stop by any Post Rock Extension Office in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Youth Gain Valuable Experience During 4-H Club Day

by Abbye Hendrich, 4-H Program Coordinator-Smith County

What would you do if you found yourself standing before a judge? Would you panic? Would you forget your own name? Would your voice get a little shaky?

Or would you be able to keep your calm?

Youth from all five counties in the Post Rock District appeared before judges during 4-H Club Day and passed with flying colors. True, they may have been a little nervous, but they didn’t let their fears get in the way of their goals. These youth delivered their presentations in style.

“I love the public speaking practice that my children are gaining by speaking about things they are interested in and excited about” Tracy Hall, 4-H mother of five, stated. “Last summer my clover Ed refused to speak about his project in front of people because he was scared, but being able to talk about something he is passionate about (batman) gave him the courage to speak.”

Not only do the participating youth learn more about their own projects, but they learn from their peers as well. “By watching other children give their presentations, my children have learned new project ideas to pursue” Hall continued.

And that is really what 4-H Club Day is all about.

It’s not just about a high ribbon placing, beating your sibling, or reciting your speech perfectly.

4-H Club Day’s ultimate goal is to provide youth with an all-around invaluable experience and the incentive to make the best better.