Monday, June 30, 2014

Slowing Down

by Kathy Lupfer Nielsen, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent


Mom has always been one of those people that can multi-task in many directions. After all she did have four children, live on a farm and volunteered for numerous activities. So now that she is 81, soon to be 82, my siblings and I find it unbelievable that it is such a big deal to help with my father’s chemo care as well as cooking a few decent meals for him. After all, she used to come up to Lincoln County to “help” me when I was helping with community events at our church or hall and so why is this so difficult now?

I’ll tell you why, and my brain is 21 years younger than hers. It’s because as women and being caregivers most all of our lives, we get tired. Tired of having to remember what all our children are allergic too, what our husband’s social security number is, what day our neighbor works so that we know when to call her for cookies for a funeral luncheon and so on? I mean really, how much trivial knowledge are we supposed to remember our entire lives. And like our children or husbands could remember much about our lives…I doubt it.

So how can we help ourselves when we find that we can’t remember as well as we used to? Write it down. Got a big family dinner coming up? Write down the menu and who has volunteered to bring what. (I’m just hoping to live long enough that my children will volunteer.)

Keep track of appointments and events on some type of calendar…not two or three different calendars…ONE calendar and then train the husband to write his appointments on that calendar too. (I keep hoping that someday my husband will do this.) I am noticing that while I have a home calendar and work calendar that I often forget to mark events on both calendars…so maybe I need to follow the advice of one calendar.

Important doctor’s appointments and you have trouble hearing everything that the doctor is telling both of you? Ask for a written report or the lab results. That is their job to provide that type of information no matter what the handicap.

Volunteer jobs that you can no longer keep up with? What about saying no to some of those jobs? Think about the ones that really mean the most to you and your life as it currently is and say no to some of the rest of them. You know if the FCE group can’t find another volunteer to serve on the Homemaker’s Council or nobody in your community will be on the Extension Council board, let it go. Surely someone else will step up to the plate. After 50 years, you’ve done your time.

Can’t keep up with your house cleaning like you’d like to? Find someone to help you once a week or every two weeks. Maybe you have a grandchild that could help you out for a little extra cash or a neighbor kid? I mean how much dust can two people make anyway and besides if someone says something about your house, give them a Swiffer and ask for their help.

Life is more than a dusty house or a floor than needs to be mopped. Sit down and rest and read a book that you enjoy. I don’t think others that enjoy visiting with you will really care. Nor do I think that any of this matters for stars in your crown if you get my drift.

And remember, take care of yourself as the caregiver. If you are a tad bit stressed, maybe you could use an anti-anxiety med to take the edge off. And when a friend suggests that, don’t take their head off, as that too could be a sign. Just saying.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

New Pest for the State of Kansas

by Neil Cates, Livestock Production Agent


Two weeks ago, I received a call about elm trees having significant insect damage from a Mitchell County resident. My first suspicion was the elm leaf beetle which is fairly common. Once I examined the trees however, I was able to quickly rule out the elm leaf beetle, leaving me stumped as to what the cause of the damage could be. Since my focus area is livestock I by no means am an expert on insects, but my insect knowledge has increased significantly the past couple of months.

Every elm tree on the place was affected. The leaves look like they had been blasted with a shotgun. I noticed that on every tree as well, there were little flea like bugs jumping everywhere, and decided that they were the cause of the damage, not knowing what kind of an insect they were. I collected a sample, and sent them to the diagnostic lab.


The sample came back as the European elm flea weevil, a new insect to the state of Kansas. Confirmed samples have been collected in Wichita of the weevil this year as well. I say the word “new” loosely. These insects have probably been here for a while, but have not been reported and confirmed until now.

The European elm flea weevil, was first identified in the northeastern United States in the early 1980s. The bugs are tiny, (flea size) and are brown with black spots, with a snout and long legs that are detectable under a magnifying glass. They leap around like fleas.

The damage caused will not kill the tree, only make it unattractive. They are mainly found on Siberian elms, but can appear on Chinese, American, hybrid and lacebark elms as well. The weevils feed in May and June.

Treatments for the elm leaf beetle are also effective on the European elm flea weevil. Control is primarily directed against the adults. Sprays of acephate (Orthene), imidacloprid (Merit), bifenthrin (Onyx, Talstar), or carbaryl (Sevin) should provide control.  However, controlling the pest is probably not economical since it only causes cosmetic damage and doesn't threaten the life of the tree.

The purpose of this blog is not to alarm you of a new pest, simply to make you aware of it. Has anybody else noticed this pest in their elm trees?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Those Darn Mosquitos!

by Nadine Sigle, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent

My garden is finally taking off after the many challenges it’s had this spring and early summer. It started with parched soil and cooler than normal temperatures making planting later than normal. I persevered and by Memorial Day thought it was in pretty good shape. The tomatoes and peppers were out and mulched, the potatoes were looking good and I had harvested some broccoli, spinach, radishes and lettuce.

The following Sunday however brought heavy rains, high winds and hail. The hail did a real number on things. My tomatoes looked like sticks, the spinach and lettuce were beaten to a pulp, and the broccoli leaves were shredded. I was a little disheartened to say the least, but I replanted some tomatoes and used the spinach and lettuce rows to plant beans. It looks like it is finally going to take off.

But I think I’m also going to take off or be carried off by the large mosquitoes that swarm after me while working in the garden. With the rains, came the mosquitoes. And the mosquitoes this year are monster size! They look like planes coming in to land and are eyeing me to refuel. As they dive bomb me, I’m swatting and slapping and it looks like I’m engaged in a war.

Well, it’s time for the war to end and they aren’t going to get the better of me. I’m arming myself with DEET containing repellent and spraying myself before going outdoors. I’ll also put on long pants to keep my legs covered. Not only will the pants help protect me from the mosquitoes, but also the chaffing which results from crawling down the rows while I harvest and pull weeds. Long sleeves are also a good idea as well as making sure I don’t have any standing water in puddles, flower pots and buckets.

By protecting myself from the mosquitoes, I’ll avoid the unwanted bites and the itching and scratching that goes along with them. I will also be protecting myself from becoming infected with West Nile Virus. West Nile Virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals when they bite. For more information on West Nile Virus, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a really good fact sheet. Visit to access the sheet.

I think I’m getting a handle on protecting myself from the mosquitoes and their unwanted side effects. Now it time to figure out how to battle the potato bugs!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Making Career Connections

by Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

Throughout one’s lifelong journey career development is defined on a continuum. Young children begin acting out their futures through play with limitless imaginations about their talents and interests. As youth grow, teenagers inherit desires to self-explore while developing a unique definition of individuality. With self-exploration comes an increased expectation of responsibility and a greater understanding of one’s community, culture, and society. It is throughout one’s adolescent years that career exploration becomes a decision-making process that aligns values with talents in order to pursue a career that meets needs while also providing satisfaction.

Summer vacation is a great opportunity for teens to focus on career exploration.
  • Interview people who are employed in an occupation.
  • Job shadow someone in a career that appeals to you.
  • Serve an internship or apply for a part-time job with a business or organization.
  • Volunteer with an organization, doing tasks relevant to your possible future career.
  • Attend a career fair or a job fair.

As you go about your exploration, be sure to pay attention to detail and take notes. Career decision-making will require a lot of personal reflection to best determine what opportunities are a good fit. Some things to consider include:
  • What personal characteristics, qualities, skills, and abilities are needed to work in this career?
  • What are two or more characteristics of this position that appeal to you?
  • Describe a typical work day or work week?
  • Would you enjoy doing this every day? Why or why not?
  • What steps must you take to prepare yourself to work in this career (such as education, licensing, certification)?
  • What can I learn in school that will help me in this career?
  • What are the working conditions and physical demands of this career?
  • What are the benefits of this career (such as salary, health, and travel)?
  • What are future prospects and outlook for this career?

Teen Leaders Gain MOMENTUM at Discovery Days

The Post Rock District had 19 delegates attend the Kansas 4-H Discovery Days which took place June 3-6, 2014 at Kansas State University. The annual event is an opportunity for teen leaders to network with peers from across the state as they engage in a variety of hands-on learning experiences that focus on self-growth and career exploration. Learning experiences ranged from bacon farming to laughing through leadership and from exploring computer science to relationship smarts. The Discovery Days theme, MOMENTUM, summarizes the experience as an opportunity to take a chance, never give up, do what it takes, and believe in yourself.

Source: Build Your Future by Michigan State University Extension. Made available through National 4-H Council.

Monday, June 9, 2014

"Hopeful" Yoga

by Kathy Lupfer Nielsen, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent


Just finished reading an article on “being hopeful” and yoga and wondered to myself…could this be something that my 82 year old farmer/father would try while he’s on chemo? The article was all about research that had been done on cancer survivors using yoga to help them relax and sleep better.

And while the movement of yoga would help him, I’m positive that he thinks climbing on and off the tractor is just good enough for his activity level. However the whole breathing and body awareness might help him out…then maybe he wouldn’t have a big spike in his blood pressure when he goes to the doctor because he’s worried…you know you can control some body functions by learning to relax.

While other forms of exercise, stretching and moderate walking can also help those with cancer, the researchers found that since yoga incorporates controlled breathing, quiet meditation and other aspects of mindfulness, that makes yoga more effective.

The family will encourage the tractor driving as long as he feels like doing it. It actually makes him so tired that he sleeps well at night which can be a problem for those on chemo. But it does drive my mother crazy when he’s out on the tractor so maybe we’ll just sign her up for some yoga. 

At any rate, we can all learn to relax better and here is the breathing exercise that is found in the Caregiver Helpbook. Learning mindfulness and being able to quiet one’s mind is a skill that can be difficult to learn but this breathing exercise is a way to begin.

Breathing for relaxation

  1. Close your eyes. If that isn’t possible, quietly become aware of your breathing.
  2. Inhale to the count of seven, slowly and deeply. Exhale to the count of seven, slowly and deeply. Exhaling is “letting go.”
  3. Repeat-without forcing your breathing in any way. If your mind becomes distracted, refocus on your breathing.
  4. Continue for one or two minutes or longer if you want. Notice how relaxed you feel overall.
So imagine your basic Kansas farmer type, sitting in a cross legged fashion doing his breathing exercises. Or better yet, practicing downward facing dog yoga pose. (Look that one up online.) Brings a smile to my face, especially if he is wearing tractor ear plugs and doesn’t have to listen to my mother’s chatter while he’s relaxing...Just saying.