Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What is this going to cost us?

The Lake of the Ozarks is an economic engine for Missouri, drawing hundreds, thousands, millions of people to central Missouri (northern Ozarks) for recreation, creating jobs, some seasonal and some year-round.

Biggest part of the visitors are rich St. Louisans and out-of-state vacationers, plus college students who want to go there to party. It's grown up so much around the lake that septic systems leak into it and have fouled it, although people still go there to ski and swim and fish. It's gotten to where it ought to be called the Lagoon of the Ozarks.

It's so nasty that our Gov. Jay Nixon has announced a plan to clean up the lake. Well, it's kind of a plan. Here's what the Columbia Missourian reported:

"Preserving Missouri's water is of critical importance, and it has long been clear that the Lake of the Ozarks is a resource in need of more stringent protection," Nixon said in a written statement. "Recent sampling results have reinforced what many of us have believed for years: the lake is heavily used but under-protected, and action is needed to change that equation."

Residential septic tanks, which fall under the purview of county governments, would be a focus at the Lake of the Ozarks under the governor's proposal. According to the governor's office, the ultimate goal will be to replace all septic tanks with sewer systems; however, installing sewers at the Lake would be costly. For now, the state will assume responsibility to inspect existing septic tanks in hopes of curbing some pollution.

"The real challenge at the Lake of the Ozarks is that you have thousands of septic systems and many of them have significant problems," said Scott Holste, the governor's spokesman. "By giving Department of Natural Resources authority, it will be major step forward."

In November, the Columbia Missourian reported the failure of septic tanks as a contributing factor to pollution at the Lake.

The governor's office also emphasized that county officials would be given more authority to inspect septic tanks should the governor's proposal be enacted.

This suggestion was met with some skepticism by Tracy Rank, the environmental public health specialist for Benton County, one of the four counties in which the Lake of the Ozarks sits.

"It sounds wonderful and everything to give us authority, and if the state said to do 100 percent inspections of septic tanks, we would do our best," Rank said. "But sometimes, 100 percent just isn't possible."

The counties at the Lake of the Ozarks would be most aided by state government money to help county residents replace failing septic tanks or for the counties to use to construct sewer systems, Rank said.

What does any of this mean? Are we taxpayers in Phelps County going to end up paying for sewer systems in Camden County?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone.

We hope today will be a meaningful celebration for you of the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the Incarnation of God and the ultimate Word and Expression of God. Moreover, through his Crucifixion we have available to us the cleansing of our spirits--though our sins be scarlet they shall be as white as snow--so we can boldly go before the Father's throne. With his Resurrection, he makes available to us eternal life. All we need to do is repent of our sins, believe in him and accept him into our lives by faith.

Often, people complain that Christmas has "gotten too commercial." It never has for me or my family. I choose not to get "commercial." Usually, the choice has been thrust upon me; I've never had enough money to engage in much commerce, what metropolitan transplants to rural areas call "serious shopping" as they complain that there's not enough of it available out here in the hinterlands. I think my low-to-moderate income has been a blessing, for it has forced me to focus my Christmastime attention on music, stories, recipes, family and church. Instead of focusing on getting presents or buying presents, I've thought most about the manger.

This has been a wonderful Advent season, perhaps the best in a long time. Our Christmas activities have included helping put up the church decorations at the parsonage, participating in the Hanging of the Green service at church, singing in the chuch cantata choir, joining other members of the congregation in the annual Christmas carry-in dinner and candlelight service. We also attended our grandson's school Christmas program and we ate chili at the Red Cross Christmas chili lunch fund-raiser. I threw money several times in the Salvation Army bucket at Wal-Mart and gave to our church's Christmas foreign missions offering. At home, we watched several Christmas movies and TV specials. I've listened to a lot of Christmas music on the radio, on CD and on streaming audio.

I've got a pretty full Christmas feeling, and nary a bit of it has come from commercialism. I simply refuse to get involved in that. We gave one gift each to our three grandchildren. I'm not buying for the rest of the family; they've got jobs and everything they need.

If you're tired of "commercialism" in your Christmas season, you can make choices. You've heard the phrases "put Christ back in Christmas" and "keep Christ in Christmas." You can do that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Too much Santa, not enough Christ

The older I get, the more uncomfortable I am with the character of Santa Claus. I think it is because I have been studying the Scripture more in the last year, and I'm appreciating the true work and character of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The mythological character of Santa seems less like a storybook character and more like a counterfeit Christ to me, the older I get. I found a website that really struck a nerve with me. It's long, and I'm sure most of you will disagree with it. Here it is, though, for your consideration: Santa Claus, the Great imposter.

I think I'm going to pay less attention to Santa, with my children and grandchildren, and focus more on Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bold statement or just a joke?

The people who wear their pants sagging below their buttocks (they, not me, call themselves by an urban variation of the N-word and say their pants are "saggin' ") think THEY started the trend.

They did not.

It was started by a white banjo picker named Dave Akeman, who went by the stage name of String Bean. He played with Bill Monroe and later went solo. He was a regular on the old Hee Haw show for many years.

Of course, he did it as a joke. He also kept his shirt tucked into his trousers.

The saggin' folks do it seriously; at least, it's serious in their own minds. They think they are doing something important, making a bold statement to society.

The rest of us, though, think it is a joke and are laughing at the silly folks who call themselves an urban variation of the N-word and wear their trousers slung so low their A-word shows.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Skelton assesses Congress in 2009

U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton has assessed Congressional action in 2009:

On Dec. 16, the first session of the 111th Congress came to a close in the House of Representatives. With America suffering from the worst economic recession in decades, this session has faced extraordinary challenges. Many of the good things accomplished this year were built around bipartisan consensus and common-sense logic, but other legislative efforts, although well intentioned, have not upheld the interests and values of rural Missouri.

One new law that will have a profound impact on the health of children in the Fourth District is the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. ...

For women and families, the Congress enacted and the President signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which will reduce workplace discrimination and ensure that women receive the same compensation as their male counterparts. ...

For our nation’s military personnel, I worked as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee to pass a strong, bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act. This bill increases military salaries by 3.4 percent, expands funding for the medical care of our warriors, and includes over $400 million in family support funds. ...

To strengthen Missouri families, the 111th Congress enacted broad tax relief and has worked to blunt the impact of the recession on as many working Americans as possible. Legislation has been passed to stimulate economic activity and create jobs. In Missouri, we have seen teachers and other public servants retain jobs that may have otherwise vanished because local tax revenues have diminished in the recession. The House recently voted to extend assistance to help teachers, police officers, and firefighters retain work and to spur additional job creation.

The 111th Congress has also enacted key measures to strengthen security at U.S. ports and along our border with Mexico; to invest in science, technology, innovation, education, and health research; to improve community safety; and to strengthen tourism and rural economies. Action has been taken by Congress to promote the interests of agriculture, too, as dairy farmers secured $350 million in emergency funds and an international trade dispute with China, harmful for American farmers, was fixed. This year, I also hosted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in the Fourth District.

Much work remains on other issues taken up by Congress, like energy legislation, health care, financial regulatory reform, and a chemical security bill. When Congress returns in January, it must continue working to bolster rural economies and spur job growth.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some Christmas music

Some Christmas music for you from the Glenn Mohr Chorale, who I've never heard of but found on YouTube. Just click on the name and listen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas specials on the radio

KMST, our public radio station here in Rolla, has a whole line-up of Christmas specials planned. You can learn more about them by following this link.
No matter where you are in the world, you can listen to KMST on your computer by clicking the Listen Live button on the home page.

What happened to global warming?

Winter has arrived in the Missouri Ozarks.
As I type this, the temperature on our front porch is 16.7 degrees. It will likely drop down to a single digit overnight.
I left the house around 5:30 this morning to drive to work. The wind blew the car all over the road. As I walked across the parking lot from the far corner to the front door of the store, the wind swirled snow flurries around my feet and tried to blow my hat from my head. I thought about the pioneers who settled the plains of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Those folks were made of much tougher stuff than I, for they built a country without good Owens-Corning or Johns-Manville insulation. They didn't have heated cars. They also didn't have Carhartt overalls or coats during those winters of blizzards and winds.
The heater in my car isn't the best in the world, but it warmed me up enough. Now I'm home in a warm house getting ready to fill my belly with supper.
Here are some links to weather sites:
National Weather Service
The Weather Channel
Weather Underground
Weather for You
Unisys Weather
With an overnight low expected to be around 9, I have to laugh about global warming. Of course, the folks who still believe in that hoax say global warming is responsible for this cold weather.
I think winter is responsible.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some Christmas music

Record brown trout caught; bigger ones still on the loose

Scott Sandusky caught this 28-pound, 12-ounce brown trout at Lake Taneycomo Nov. 20, setting a new Missouri state record for the species. The Missouri Department of Conservation says chances are good that larger brown trout prowl the lake’s clear, productive waters.(Missouri Department of Conservation photo)

By Jim Low
Missouri Department of Conservation

BRANSON–For Scott Sandusky, the most exciting fish in the world is the Missouri state-record brown trout he landed Nov. 20. For the rest of us, the most exciting fish are the even bigger brown trout that might still be prowling the depths of Lake Taneycomo.

Sandusky, a 49-year-old resident of Arnold, caught his 28-pound, 12-ounce fish on Berkley Power Bait and 4-pound-test line on a spinning rod and reel. The fish – which bore some resemblance to a football – bested the previous record – another Taneycomo fish – by more than a pound. It measured 37 inches from nose to tail.

Sandusky’s catch is dwarfed by the world record brown trout, caught from Michigan’s Big Manistee River Sept. 9. That fish weighed 41 pounds, 7 ounces. However, the Missouri Department of Conservation says Lake Taneycomo could harbor even bigger brown trout.

In September 1997, a Lake Taneycomo angler found a monster brown trout dead near the lake’s 18-mile marker. The fish measured 41.75 inches long. Some estimated its live weight at 45 pounds.

Mike Kruse, now fisheries administrative manager for the Conservation Department in Jefferson City, was the agency’s trout research biologist in 1997. At the time, he noted that the dead fish could have been a world record.

Conservation Agent Quenten Fronterhouse said he has seen larger fish in the Trout Hollow area. Fisheries Management Biologist Shane Bush said Conservation Department fisheries workers have found a number of brown trout weighing more than 30 pounds when conducting electrofishing samples.

“With our annual stocking rate of around 10,000 brown trout a year, Taneycomo should have no problem producing additional world-class brown trout in the future,” said Bush.

“There is no telling how many world-class brown trout are swimming around in Lake Taneycomo,” said Kruse. “The lake’s natural food base is phenomenal, and it has an abundance of deep-water habitat that can hide big fish.”

Furthermore, said Kruse, Lake Taneycomo’s slow-moving current allows big trout to grow rapidly, because they don’t have to expend much energy.

In contrast, anglers are likely to expend lots of energy looking for big browns at Lake Taneycomo, spurred on by Sandusky’s success.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Gardening Calendar

Weeks 1-4: Water houseplants with tepid water. Cold tap water may shock plants
Weeks 1-4: Be sure newly purchased indoor plants are well protected for the trip home. Exposure to icy temperatures for even a few moments may cause injury.
Weeks 1-4: Overwintering geraniums like bright light and cool temperatures. Keep soils on the dry side
Weeks 1-4: On cold nights, move houseplants back from icy windows to prevent chilling injury.
Weeks 3-4: Mulch flower and bulb beds after the ground freezes, to prevent injury to plants from frost heaving.
Weeks 2-4: Holiday Poinsettia basics: Sun for at least half of the day. Keep away from drafts, registers and radiators. Night temperatures in 50’s or low 60’s, days at 70 degrees. The soil should dry only slightly between thorough waterings. Discard the drainage. Be sure to punch holes in the decorative foil wraps to prevent soggy soil conditions.
Weeks 1-4: Hairspray works well to keep seed heads and dried flowers intact on wreaths and
Weeks 1-4: Living Christmas tree basics: - dig the planting hole before the ground freezes. - mulch and cover the backfill soil and the planting hole to keep them dry and unfrozen. - don’t allow the tree’s roots to become dry. - spray with an anti-transpirant to reduce needle moisture loss. - store the tree outdoors in a cool, shady, windless area until the last minute. Mulch the roots to prevent cold injury. - set the tree up in your coolest room. - don’t keep the tree indoors for more than one week. Plant outdoors promptly.
Weeks 1-4: Be sure the root zones of azaleas and rhododendrons are thoroughly mulched. Any organic material will do, but mulches made from oak leaves, shredded oak bark, or pine needles are preferred.
Weeks 1-3: Christmas trees hold needles longer if you make a clean, fresh cut at the base and always keep the trunk standing in water.
Weeks 1-3: Only female holly trees bear the colorful berries. There must be a male tree growing nearby for pollination, if fruits are desired.
Weeks 1-3: Hollies may be trimmed now and the prunings used in holiday decorations.
Week 1: If you feed rabbits corn or alfalfa, they may leave fruit tree bark unharmed.
Week 1: Apply mulches to bulbs, perennials and other small plants once the ground freezes.
Week 1: All power equipment should be winterized before storage. Change the oil and lubricate moving parts. Either drain fuel systems or mix a gas stabilizing additive into the tank.
Week 1: Clean and oil all garden hand tools before storing for winter.

--Missouri Environment & Garden newsletter

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Sermon in Song

From Wisconsin, but there were Missourians there, and this kind of singing fits in the history of rural Missouri

I think it's humorous that whoever posted this on YouTube wanted to make sure we knew this event was held in SOUTHERN Wisconsin, not up there in the north, which must be where are all the Yankees are.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

O’Fallon angler sets sixth fishing record of the year

James M. Lucas, of O’Fallon, snagged this 1-pound, 8-ounce skipjack herring to set a new “alternative methods” Missouri State record. He was fishing in Sandy Slough, just off the Mississippi River in Lincoln County.

By Jim Low
Missouri Department of Conservation

DEFIANCE, Mo.–The weather may be cooling down, but Missouri anglers continue to set a hot pace for fishing records, this time with a little-known species of herring.

James M. Lucas, of O’Fallon, snagged a 1-pound, 8-ounce skipjack herring at Sandy Slough, just off the Mississippi River in Lincoln County, Sept. 15. The streamlined, silvery fish measured 18 inches from nose to tail.

Before Lucas’ entry, the Missouri Department of Conservation did not have a skipjack herring record in the “alternative methods” category. Fisheries Management Biologist Marvin Boyer determined that the fish met the minimum weight requirement for its species, clearing the way for its certification.

“Alternative methods” include snagging, trotlines, spearfishing, bowfishing and other methods besides hand-held poles and lines.

Lucas’ record catch is just a shade smaller than the current pole-line-and-lure record skipjack, a 1-pound, 11-ounce specimen caught from the Osage River by George Gerloff, of Jefferson City, in 2005.

Entry forms, rules and a list of Missouri fishing records are available online at Click on keywords “Fishing” and “Browse Fishing by Subject.”

The same Web page has information about the Conservation Department’s Master Angler program, which recognizes notable catches that fall short of records. For qualifying lengths and weights, visit

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Tips for Successfully Frying or Smoking a Turkey

By David Burton
University Extension

The good thing about frying or smoking turkey is that it leaves the oven empty for cooking other dishes.
“Both frying and smoking result in a tasty turkey but some extra care must be taken to assure a safe product,” said Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
To smoke food safely, Roberts recommends using two thermometers: one for the meat and one for the smoker. The grill temperature at the grate should be 200 to 250 degrees.
“If you are using a charcoal smoker, add briquettes every hour to hour and a half to help maintain proper temperatures. For food safety reasons, it is best if the turkey is thawed completely and not stuffed,” said Roberts.
It is also a good idea to soak the hardwood chips in water for one or two hours.
“While they are soaking, prepare the turkey by brushing the skin with cooking oil and insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh without touching a bone,” said Roberts.
Plug in the electric smoker or light the charcoal smoker about 30 minutes before cooking.
Place the foil-lined water pan in the smoker and fill the pan with water. Place the turkey on the grill and adjust the vents according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
The turkey should cook to a temperature of 180 degrees and it can take up to twelve hours depending on the weather and your equipment.
“Every time you lift the lid, you add ten minutes to the cooking time,” said Roberts. “If the thermometer does not read 140 degrees in four hours, the turkey should be finished in the oven. Temperatures under 140 degrees for too long allow harmful bacteria to grow.”
Fried turkey cooks a lot faster but also requires special handling. As with the smoked turkey, start with a completely thawed, unstuffed bird. The container you fry in must be large enough to hold the turkey with enough oil to cover it.
To determine how much oil is needed, place the turkey in the kettle and cover with water one to two inches above the turkey. Remove the turkey and measure the distance from the top of the pot to the water line. The oil should be filled to the same level.
Heat the oil to 350 degrees, allowing 45 minutes to one hour for the oil to heat. Use a candy thermometer to determine the temperature of the oil.
“Peanut oil is usually the preferred oil for this process because it does well at high temperatures,” said Roberts.
When the oil reaches 350 degrees, carefully lower the turkey into the pot. It takes three to five minutes per pound for the turkey to cook.
“An indicator that the turkey is done is that it will start to float. To assure doneness when you remove the turkey from the oil, insert a thermometer in the thigh. If the thermometer does not read 180 degrees, return the turkey to the oil for more cooking,” said Roberts.
If you would like to re-use the oil, let it cool and strain it through cheesecloth then cover and refrigerate. Oil can be used three to four times before it loses effectiveness.
“Add a small amount of fresh oil each time you use it for best results. If signs of deterioration occur, discard. Some signs of deterioration include darkening, foaming, excessive smoking when heated, rancid smell or failure to bubble when food is added,” said Roberts.
For more information go online to or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

When Searching Family Tree, Note Medical Histories

By David Burton
University Extension

When searching family history it is important to record medical conditions of relatives.
One reason is that knowing the family medical history is essential to make informed medical and reproductive decisions. This is especially true now that the medical community understands that many diseases are inherited.
"As a genealogist or the family record keeper, details you record could benefit future family members," said David Burton, civic communication specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
Burton recommends making it a point to record as many of the details as possible when collecting data for family history.
These details are found in family stories, obituaries, death certificates, census records, newspaper stories, and interviews. For example, take note of:
Birth and death dates if deceased, as well as cause of death.
Occupations, which might influence health.
Major illnesses such as cancer, heart disease or diabetes.
General patterns of ill health over the life of an individual.
Birth defects or stillborn children born to a family.
Allergies, both environmental and drug related.
Emotional or behavioral problems (depression, alcohol use, anxiety, etc).
Chronic health problems like asthma or high blood pressure.
Vision and hearing problems.
General health routines, like tobacco use and diet.
Note the age of the person when health conditions were reported.
"A log of family health history can be shared with family members and medical providers. We cannot even guess how the information could help future generations," said Burton.
"The History of Me” is a 20 - page guide developed by Burton that is full of questions that will guide a person toward preserving a personal history for future generations.
The booklet is available for free online at

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wednesday Websites

Five websites you need:

Bluegrass Works

Down Home Radio Show

The Gospel Greats

And a bonus:

If You Eat, Thank a Farmer This Holiday Season

By David Burton
University Extension

The most recent USDA figures show Americans spends 9.6 percent of their disposable income on food.
Compare that to countries like India and Indonesia where residents spend closer to 40 and 50 percent of their income on food.
“It shows that American farmers and ranchers are some of the most efficient in the world at producing food and fiber,” said Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Due to the topography, most of the agriculture in the Ozarks is focused on beef, dairy and poultry production. Missouri actually ranks second in the nation for land used to produce forages for livestock.
“We primarily contribute to providing meat for the country and beyond. Our crop base has increased in recent years, particularly in the western Ozark region,” said Schnakenberg. “There has also been an increase in corn and soybean production, which provides feed for our meat production.”
There is no doubt, agriculture remains big business in southwest Missouri and everyone that eats is involved in agriculture.
“Agriculture is one of the few industries that have not been shipped overseas. Our dependence on foreign agriculture is increasing and if that becomes a significant trend, it can become more of a national security issue,” said Schnakenberg. “Most people still prefer to have their food produced locally and not depend on a foreign country to feed us.”
Unfortunately, farmers themselves get back less than 20 cents of every dollar paid by the consumer. The balance primarily goes to processors, wholesalers, and retailers. According to Schnakenberg, producers actually receive less than half of what they used to get from the food dollar 60 years ago.
The industry being hardest hit right now is the dairy industry.
“Ozarks dairy farmers are currently being paid less than what it costs to produce milk. It doesn’t take long for that catch up to a dairy farm,” said Schnakenberg.
Coupled with a weak dollar, demand for dairy products worldwide is down and Schnakenberg says this is probably the worst economic collapse seen in this sector of agriculture.
“I just would like to encourage the non-farm public to appreciate where their food comes from. It is tough to make a go of it in farming,” said Schnakenberg. “If there is a farmer down the road from you, remember to thank him or her from time to time for what they do.”
MU Extension has a number of specialists in southwest Missouri that deal with agriculture related issues. Contact the nearest MU Extension Center for more information.

How Thin Is Too Thin? Body Condition Influences Breed Back Capability in Cows

By David Burton
University Extension

Most beef cow-calf owners will say their spring or fall calving cows are in “good” shape according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
“But when you judge those cows visually, you may say they’re a little thin or maybe even some are too fat. Not all of them are ‘good’,” said Cole.
Body condition does matter especially in the area of reproductive efficiency.
“If you want 75 percent plus to breed in the first 21 days of the breeding season, the level of condition plays a major role,” said Cole.
According to Cole, the Body Condition Scoring (BCS) system now used to subjectively describe cow, heifer and bull fleshiness serves a useful purpose and is fairly easy to learn.
The BCS for beef cattle is set up on a scale of 1 to 9.
Low numbers 1, 2, 3 are very thin with ribs and backbones easily visible. The 1’s are the worst and are physically weak. “Fortunately, not too many 1’s, 2’s and even 3’s are seen in well-managed operations unless health conditions are involved,” said Cole.
Body condition scores from 4 to 6 are the most often seen in typical southwest Missouri herds. A 4 BCS cow or bull is thin with all the ribs and backbone showing. “Animals in this condition are generally considered thin and in need of some extra groceries,” said Cole.
A 5 BCS animal is usually called moderate to thin. The last two ribs are visible especially if the haircoat isn’t heavy. There is little evidence of fat in the brisket or around the tail head. “Cows that are 5’s and have just weaned a calf, should be of no concern as good pasture will allow the dry cow to gain enough flesh to be a 6 by the time she calves,” said Cole.
A cow in a BCS of 6 is likely the “just right” condition in most people’s opinion. They have a smooth appearance and they have fat in the brisket and around the tail. Some fat can be palpated over the ribs. “First-calf heifers should carry this degree of condition at calving if you expect to get them bred back to calve in 12 months,” said Cole.
The 7 BCS up to the 9’s are in very good flesh with very full briskets, there’s fat cover over the ribs and the back looks square due to fat deposits. “The 8’s and 9’s are truly obese and usually result from being dry for a while and receiving too much high quality feed. You’re likely to have as much trouble with cows on this end of the scale as the 1’s to 3’s,” said Cole.
Cole recommends using BCS to get a feel for the quality of your breeding stock.
“If you find several in the four range or even the seven range you may want to make some sorting and feeding management changes. It can save money and stretch the feed supply,” said Cole.
For more tips on the use of BCS visit with a MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102; Gary Naylor in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; and Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lessons From My First Season of Container Gardening

By David Burton
University Extension

I’m declaring my first attempt at container gardening a marginal success. I started in April with family-wide excitement but finished up in early October with a whimper.
I enjoyed five green beans (yes, you read that correctly), many small tomatoes, several weeks of lettuce and carrots, five zucchini and three strawberries from my 12 different containers.
While my total volume of fresh produce was small this year, I did enjoy learning some basic facts of gardening. Unfortunately, most of my lessons came from mistakes.
So here is what I, a civic communication specialist with University of Missouri Extension, learned about container gardening this year.
There is such a thing as too much rain. Too much rain can cause blight on tomatoes, powdery mildew on zucchini, rot on strawberries and rust on beans. My plants had all four diseases.
Vegetable gardens need a lot of sun. The spots I picked for my tomato and zucchini containers did not receive enough sun. I thought I was doing them a favor by selecting locations that had shade after 3 p.m.
Location, location, location doesn’t just apply to real estate. The MU Extension guide sheet on vegetable gardening says this: “Selecting the location for a garden is an important decision. The right spot can make gardening more pleasant and convenient and contribute to plant health and survival.”
Animal netting can be your best friend and your biggest hassle. I purchased netting to keep the birds from digging soil out of my pots. It also kept the squirrels out of my tomatoes. The downside was that the netting nearly kept me out of my plants. I understand that my attempts to get under the netting and work provided my neighbors with hours of summer enjoyment.
Who knew that squirrels like to eat nearly ripe eggplants? Apparently, they like to wait until just a few hours before you pick ripe eggplant to actually eat on them. I’m thinking about ways I can have the last laugh this winter.
Soil tests are important, need I say more? Help ensure your gardening success by getting a soil test done at the nearest MU Extension Center. Fall is actually a very good time to do this since you can be ready to treat the soil come early spring.
The taste of lettuce gets stronger, and stronger, and stronger with each cutting. We really enjoyed our abundance of lettuce, but the third cutting nearly curled our toes. Next season we will stop after just two cuttings.
You can have too much of a good thing, like carrots for example. Next season I am only going to plant two containers of carrots and I’m going to thin them out.
I’ve learned from my gardening mistakes. This winter, I’m going to re-read my materials from MU Extension on container gardening, review the MU Extension vegetable planning guide, plan my container placements for next summer and get a live animal trap for my eggplant-eating squirrel.
For expert advice related to gardening, call the Master Gardener hotline in Greene County at (417) 862-9284 or visit MU Extension online at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Statewide firearms deer season opens today

By Jim Low
Conservation Department

Hunters in most parts of Missouri will find plenty of deer when the November Portion of Firearms Deer Season opens Nov. 14, but they need to check out changes in hunting regulations before the season starts.

This year’s firearms deer season includes 42 days in six portions:

§ Urban. Oct. 9-12

§ Early youth, Oct. 31-Nov. 1

§ November, Nov. 14-24

§ Antlerless, Nov. 25-Dec. 6

§ Muzzleloader, Dec. 19-29 and

§ Late youth, Jan. 2-3.

Hunters should note that the order of the antlerless and muzzleloader portions is reversed this year compared to what it has always been in the past. Other changes include:

§ Young hunters must be at least 6 years old to obtain landowner hunting permits.

§ Reduced-cost nonresident landowner permits no longer are available.

§ When mentoring a firearms hunter who is not hunter-education certified and not hunting on a landowner permit, all mentors, including landowners on their own land, must be at least 18 years old and hunter-education certified unless they were born before Jan. 1, 1967.

§ Qualifying nonresident students may purchase resident permits, except lifetime permits.

§ New areas with antler-point restrictions include Ste. Genevieve County and the parts of Cass and Jefferson counties not included in the new urban deer zones.

§ The part of Franklin County in the St. Louis Urban Deer Zone no longer is under the antler-point restriction.

§ Legal air-powered firearms may be used during firearms managed deer hunts.

§ Deer hunting seasons and methods are restricted on some conservation areas this year, and some area regulations have changed.

Details of these changes are explained in the 2009 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, which is available wherever hunting permits are sold. The same information is available at

Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen says hunters will find deer plentiful throughout most of Missouri this year. Furthermore, he said they will find more mature bucks in much of the state, thanks to a regulation that went into effect in 2004. That is when the Missouri Department of Conservation implemented the “four-point rule.”

Under the regulation, hunters in 29 counties in northwest and central Missouri have not been allowed to take antlered deer unless they have at least four points measuring 1 inch or larger on one side of their antlers. Few deer achieve this degree of antler development before they are 2.5 years old. In effect, the antler-point restriction is a minimum age limit, giving bucks time to mature and grow larger antlers. They also gain experience, making them more wary and challenging to hunt.

Long-term studies show that white-tailed deer bucks’ antlers attain only 25 to 35 percent of their maximum size when they are 1.5 years old. The figure increases to 60 percent for 2.5-year-olds. Three and one-half-year-old bucks’ antlers are 75 to 80 percent of maximum size, while those 4.5 years old grow antlers that are 90 to 95 percent as large as they ever will grow.

Hansen said the total number of deer taken by hunters typically decreases the first year that antler-point restrictions are in effect in a particular area. However, the number of does taken may increase, improving the Conservation Department’s ability to control deer numbers. The total number of deer taken in antler-point restriction areas gradually climbs back to nearly its previous level as antlered deer mature and grow larger antlers, making them legal for hunters to shoot.

Hansen points to the ages of deer taken by hunters in counties with the antler-point restriction four years after the rule went into effect. The number of 2.5-year-old deer was up 20 percent compared to counties without the restriction. The number of 3.5-year-old deer was 62 percent greater in antler-point restriction counties, and the number of 4.5-year-old deer was up an astonishing 202 percent.

“You have to be a bit cautious about the big differences in 3.5- and 4.5-year-olds,” said Hansen. “The number of deer that hunters take in those age classes is small, so even a modest difference in the absolute number of deer shot translates into a big percentage difference. Nevertheless, a significant difference is attributable to the antler-point restriction.”

Not surprisingly, hunters who focus on mature bucks have been enthusiastic promoters of the four-point rule. This popular support has encouraged the Conservation Department to expand the regulation to 65 counties and parts of three more.

The Conservation Department reminds hunters that Missouri’s population of black bears, while still small, is growing. That means more hunters are likely to encounter bears.

Black bears are naturally shy and avoid human contact. If you see a bear, do not make eye contact. Back away slowly while speaking in a normal voice. If a bear visits your hunting camp in search of food, get in a vehicle and make noise to frighten the bear away. Always report bear encounters to the nearest Conservation Department office.

The Conservation Department also urges hunters to buy firewood locally and burn it before leaving their hunting areas. Moving firewood from place to place can spread devastating forest pests, such as the emerald ash borer and the gypsy moth.

This year’s abundance of firearms deer hunting opportunities represents an amazing change for those who remember the early days of modern deer hunting in Missouri. There was no deer hunting season from when the newly created Missouri Department of Conservation began deer-restoration work in 1937 until 1944. In the early years, the season was for bucks only and lasted just two days. Only 20 counties were open to deer hunting, and the season always was held in November.

As deer numbers grew, the Conservation Commission lengthened the season. The state’s deer population eventually grew large enough to justify a second season for hunters using muzzle-loading firearms. This season extended firearms deer hunting into early December.

By the 1990s, the number of deer in some areas grew large enough to create problems with crop damage and deer-vehicle accidents. This called for deer hunting regulations aimed at reducing deer numbers or maintaining them at desired levels, rather than increasing them. Shooting does is the key to controlling deer numbers, and this fact led to the first-ever antlerless-only deer season in January of 1997. The Conservation Commission later moved the antlerless season into December, following the muzzleloader season. This year, for the first time, the antlerless hunt will follow immediately on the heels of the regular November season, and the muzzleloader hunt will take place in late December, followed by the late youth portion of deer season in January.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Refrigerator Temperatures are Important for Food Safety

By David Burton
University Extension

To assure food safety, a refrigerator should maintain temperatures at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit according to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
“The danger zone in which illness-causing bacteria can grow and multiply is 40 degrees to 140 degrees. The closer temperatures are to the middle of that range, the faster bacteria grow and multiply,” said Roberts.
Bacteria can still multiply at 40 degrees (just at a very slow rate).
“That is one reason why it is recommended you use or throw out leftover food within four days of preparation. Raw poultry and ground meat should be used in one or two days,” said Roberts.
The best way to make sure a refrigerator is at or below 40 degrees is by using a refrigerator or appliance thermometer.
To check the temperature in a refrigerator, place the appliance thermometer (which can be purchased at hardware and some grocery stores) in a glass of water in the middle of the refrigerator and wait five to eight hours.
“If the temperature is not 38 to 40 degrees after 5 to 8 hours, adjust the temperature control and then check again,” said Roberts.
After the refrigerator temperature has been adjusted, the thermometer can be removed from the water and stored on the rack in the middle of the refrigerator.
According to Roberts, a clean refrigerator works more efficiently than a dirty one.
Drips and spills should be cleaned immediately. Surfaces should be cleaned with hot, soapy water and then rinsed.
The front grill of the refrigerator should be kept free from dust. This allows air to flow freely to the condenser. The condenser should be cleaned with a brush or vacuum cleaner several times a year for better efficiency.
“Once you clean the refrigerator set it at 40 degrees or below. By doing this you are assuring the safety of food for your family. Energy conservation is an added benefit of keeping the parts clean,” said Roberts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Know the Facts Before Buying, or Selling, Firewood

By David Burton
University Extension

Many people who buy cordwood for their home wood stoves admit they don't understand the transfer process. Some dealers talk in terms of a "rick," a "rank" or a "pickup load."
Others mention a "face cord" and still others talk in terms of a cord or fractions of a cord. Sometimes the definitions vary from dealer to dealer and from locality to locality.
“We would like to think that most dealers are honest and the transaction is fair. But this is no way to run a business,” said Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
Schultheis shares here the most common questions he receives about buying and selling firewood, along with his answers to the questions.
Q: Homeowners with wood stoves are stocking up on firewood for their winter heat supply. I understand there is a state law governing how firewood is bought and sold?
A: Yes, by state law, firewood must be sold by the cord or fraction of a cord, and it must be accompanied by a bill of sale in accordance with requirements of the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Division of Weights and Measures. Rick, rank, face cord, truckload and pile are not legal units of measure for sale of firewood.
Q: How much is a cord of wood?
A: A cord of wood measures four feet high, four feet wide and eight feet long, totaling 128 cubic feet. Any combination of these measurements is fine as long as they total 128 cubic feet when the wood is stacked in a compact manner.
Q: What’s the easiest way to measure a stack of wood?
A: A simple way is to measure the length, width and average height (all in inches) of the compactly-stacked pile of wood. Multiply these three figures together and divide the result by 220,000. The answer is the number of cords. Multiply this number by the dollar cost per cord to get the price the buyer should pay.
Q: Any other tips on getting a fair deal when buying firewood?
A: First, don’t pay for the wood until it has been stacked and measured by both the buyer and seller. Second, get a receipt with the seller’s name, address, phone number and vehicle license number, along with the price, amount and kind of wood purchased. And third, if a problem with a seller cannot be resolved, contact the Missouri Department of Agriculture's Division of Weights and Measures at 573-751-5639.
Q: Where can I get more information on buying and selling cordwood?
A: Contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center and ask for MU Guides G5450 and G5452, which give details about buying and selling cordwood, and about the burning characteristics and heat content of various woods. Or contact Schultheis at the Webster County Extension Center, (417) 859-2044

Monday, October 26, 2009

Get ready now for what comes later

When I was a young man, my Sunday School teacher asked us how we coped with tragedy. I had to confess that I'd never experienced real tragedy or loss. He said it was coming and that I'd better get prayed up and rooted in the scripture so I could handle it when it happened.

He was right.

--R.D. Hohenfeldt

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Healthy Halloween is Possible with Healthy Treats

By David Burton
University Extension

It’s hard to think of Halloween as a holiday to practice healthy eating habits.
However, Halloween is a great time to set a good example and remember moderation is one key to a healthy diet according to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
“Halloween provides a great opportunity to be a good role model. Set the example by making a healthy choice for what will be passed out at your house on Halloween night,” said Roberts.
Some examples of Halloween treats that Roberts suggests are apples, small boxes of raisins, individual bags of snack mix or pretzels, stickers, Halloween puzzles or pencils.
“Make sure your child eats a healthy meal before they go trick-or-treating,” said Roberts. “If the children are excited about going then enhance their appetite by making a festive meal.”
For example, let children make a pumpkin face by spreading grated cheese over a slice of bread. Let them make the face with black olives or other vegetables they like. Place the face under the broiler just until the cheese melts and then serve. Soup is great with sandwiches too.
“You can make a soup tureen by cleaning the insides out of a pumpkin and putting the soup inside. This pumpkin bowl could be used for fruit instead if you prefer,” said Roberts.
Balance, variety and moderation are keys to healthful eating.
“Let your children choose a few pieces of candy to have on Halloween night and then choose a few pieces each day after that,” said Roberts.
According to Roberts, children need to avoid too many foods and drinks that are high in sugar.
“If they are eating too many high sugar foods, they don’t have room for the healthy foods that contain the important nutrients they need for growth and development,” said Roberts.
Another thing to remember (when all of the Halloween candy is in the house) is that sugary foods contribute to tooth decay.
In the mouth, there are bacteria. These bacteria like to eat sugar and that produces an acid. That acid is what eats away at teeth causing cavities.
“Since we know that there is a good chance that children will be consuming sugar on Halloween, encourage them to brush their teeth often,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, contact any of the University of Missouri Extension offices in southwest Missouri, go online to or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Specialist Says, “Begin Controlling Thistles Now”

By David Burton
University Extension

Thistles continue to be a problem in Barry County as well as other parts of southwest Missouri according to Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
The good news is that fall is a perfect time for landowners to start controlling thistles on their land while they are in the young and susceptible rosette state.
“Most rosettes that are seen now will become large plants by spring next year, leading to a release of as many as 10,000 seeds per plant if left uncontrolled,” said Schnakenberg.
Missouri law says all landowners have the responsibility to keep musk thistle plants from going to seed. Schnakenberg says this region also has plenty of bull and tall thistles that can be just as invasive, though not on the noxious weed list of Missouri.
Landowners should rely on a variety of approaches to control thistle.
The most effective ways of controlling this pest are by maintaining good fertility and grazing management techniques, chemical treatment when appropriate, mowing at proper stages of growth, biological control and digging.
“There are two good times to treat thistles. When it is in the rosette stage the plant is most susceptible to herbicides like 2,4-D and Milestone. To catch the plant in that stage, spray in September and October or in the spring during late March and early April on a warm day,” said Schnakenberg.
If the plant begins to bolt it is not as susceptible and may require stronger pesticides. Products such as Grazon and Tordon also work well because they can leave a residue in the soil to kill late-emerging rosettes.
Multiple passes with a brush hog earlier in the season can be effective if timed properly. The first pass should occur immediately after the terminal bloom flower head blooms. Since viable seed can be produced within 7 to 10 days of the flower turning pink, waiting later can allow some seed to be produced and spread with the brush hog. Mowing earlier can lead to re-growth with the result of additional flower heads produced.
Most fields have had a few musk thistle flower head weevils this year that destroyed seeds in the head before they became viable. They won’t kill all thistles but they do have an impact.
“It will take all landowners working together to get a handle on this invasive weed. We will never completely eradicate them but with a persistent effort, the effect of thistles on property can be lessened,” said Schnakenberg.
For more information, including an MU Guide on the control of thistles, contact the University of Missouri Extension Center in Cassville at (417) 847-3161.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Open Cows Need Special Attention if Livestock Operation is to Make Money

By David Burton
University Extension

Weaning time is underway in southern Missouri for calves born in the winter to early spring season according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Accompanying the calf removal process, top managers scrutinize the cows and make decisions to improve their herd and its overall profitability.
“One key decision is to determine if the cows have bred back,” said Cole. “Although pregnancy testing normally is done by a veterinarian,”
Cows that did not settle in time to fit the 2010 calving season require some thought by the owner.
Did they not breed because of problems beyond their control? Was it due to her late calving and prompt bull removal after a 60 day breeding season? It might have been a disease or an injury? Fescue toxicity/heat related problems may have caused them to lose their pregnancies. It’s even possible it was a bull problem.
“Regardless of the cause, open cows need special attention. Older cows in the twilight of their career need to be sold for beef and not breeding purposes. Even that 4-H or FFA project or favorite cow may need to move on,” said Cole.
Cull cows can be kept on good pasture with some concentrate feed for a couple of months and gain efficiently. The big advantage of caring for the open-cull cow two to three months is the cow market trends up after the large runs in the fall.
“Open cows that are young to middle age, in healthy condition may be converted to fall calvers especially if feed is abundant as it is this fall,” said Cole.
A bred female should be worth considerably more next summer than she is now as an open cow.
“Once again be sure you have the feed available to properly care for them and that they do not have physical problems,” said Cole.
According to Cole, a few of the sure-fire reasons to load the culls up and sell for harvest include: consistently weans a poor calf; is crazy, hard-to-handle and a bad influence on the rest of the herd; soundness problems such as feet, mouth, eyes and udder.
For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102; Gary Naylor in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; and Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday websites for your use

These websites are all related to swine flu in Missouri:

Swine Flu Missouri Forum

Swine Flu Q&A

Latest Information on H1N1

Missouri Weekly Reports

Status of the Outbreak

Now, don't be stupid; you can't get swine flu from eating pork, so don't give up sausage, bacon, pork steaks, all the good stuff from the pork pig

Giving pork a bad name

Monday, October 19, 2009

Persimmons Can Be Healthy, Sweet Treat When Ripe

By David Burton
University Extension

Mid-October is the time of year when persimmons ripen and a fully ripened persimmon tastes great according to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“If your lips pucker when you hear the word ‘persimmon,’ and you wondered why anyone would ever want to eat a persimmon, then there is a good chance you haven’t eaten a persimmon when it was fully ripe,” said Roberts.
Ripe persimmons are a small orange-red smooth-skinned fruit measuring from one to three inches. American persimmon trees are native to Missouri.
The bitterness in the fruit leaves as it ripens and the flesh becomes soft.
Missouri persimmons should be picked and eaten when they are very soft but will ripen off the tree if picked before they are fully ripe.
“If you pick them before they are ready to eat, just leave them at room temperature for a few days to allow them to ripen. To speed up the process, you can put them in a paper bag with a banana or apple,” said Roberts.
Ripe fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days according to Roberts.
Persimmons can also be frozen for year-round use. Just wash and peel then cut them into sections. Press the fruit through a sieve to make a puree. For better quality, add one-eighth teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid or one and one-half teaspoons crystalline citric acid to each quart of puree.
Missouri persimmons are so sweet when they are ripe that they need no added sugar. Pack the puree into freezer containers leaving headspace, seal and freeze.
Persimmons are high in vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C and fiber.
“Many people like them best when picked and eaten right off the tree. They can also be pureed and used as a topping for ice cream or cake. They are a great addition to rice dishes and fruit salads. Many people like to make persimmon pudding and persimmon cookies,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Higher Fuel Prices Make Home Energy Conservation Popular

By David Burton
University Extension

Higher fuel prices and limited family budgets make cheap home energy conservation measures appealing.
No one thing will magically cut energy expenses a lot, but attention to many little things can all help add up to greatly-reduced costs according to Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
“Remember, you’re not actually saving any money until you have recaptured the money you spent to do the energy conservation measure,” said Schultheis.
Here are Schultheis's top ten quick payback tips for colder weather.

1. Insulate older water heaters and set back the thermostat to 120 to 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Cost of the insulation will be paid back in 4 to 8 months.
2. Caulk all outside joints where dissimilar materials meet, like where wood meets masonry and where pipes go through concrete. Use acrylic latex tube caulk for joints one-quarter inch wide or less, and use oakum, expandable foam or other filler material plus tube caulk for joints wider than one-quarter inch.
3. Weatherstrip exterior door and window gaps to reduce heat loss. A one-eighth inch wide gap around a door is the same as a six-inch diameter hole through it. Install foam gaskets under electrical outlet plates on exterior walls and put plastic plugs in unused sockets to reduce cold air invasion.
4. Add attic insulation if it is now less than six inches thick. If it's over six inches thick, insulating the floor and underfloor water pipes pays back quicker. Minimum insulation levels for Missouri homes are R-49 in the ceilings, R-18 in walls, and R-25 in floors over crawlspaces.
5. Install interior storm window kits on single-pane windows.
6. Put tight-fitting doors on fireplaces to slow heat loss. Don't use an open fireplace if you're serious about heating the house. Give your furnace its annual tune-up.
7. Use south-facing windows to passively collect solar heat during daytime. Close drapes at night to retain heat in the house.
8. Keep lights clean for maximum illumination. Shut them off when not in use.
9. Wear clothing in layers. Then set back the house thermostat to 68 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night. Do reading, television viewing, for example, near heat sources and away from cold windows and outside walls. Locate furnishings for active functions, such as eating and playing, away from direct heat sources.
10. Involve the whole family in your energy management program to assure success.

For more information on energy conservation options, contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center, go on-line to, or call Schultheis in Webster County at (417) 859-2044.

How to Make a Rain Barrel

Jason Smith raises $10,600, spends $1,409

Friends for Jason Smith, the committee that supports the Salem Republican who represents the 150th District in the Missouri House, reported Oct. 14 that it received $10,600 and spent $1,409.60 in the quarterly reporting period.

Contributions came from:
Ovia Marie McGinnis, Cuba small business owner, $1,000
John R. Taylor, Steelville, retired, $250
Maxine Steelman, Salem, retired, $500
Ameristar Casino, Kansas City, $125
Ameristar Casino, St. Charles, $125
150th Legislative Republican Fund, Lecoma, $2,500
Roger Gott, Town and Country Bank, $200
Crawford County Republican Central Committee, Cuba, $1,000
Andrew Stubblefield, self-employed, Cuba, $250
Powell Rentals LLC (Bruce Powell), Salem, $500
AGC of St. Louis, political action, committee, $325
Rushing Construction Co. (Connie Rushing), Salem, $250
Mary Ann Smith, Salem, retired, $300
Towne Pharmacy, Cuba, $1,000
Bass River Resort, Steelville, $250
Missouri Insurance Coalition PAC, Jefferson City, $300
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City, $300
John R. Wharrie, Salem, small business owner, $250
plus another $1,175 from people each giving under $100 each.

Expenditures under $100 each were: $88 for postage, $75 for a hole sponsorship and $30 for a trophy sponsorship.

Expendituress made over $100 each were:
Riverways Pregnanacy Center, Salem, $100 donation
Missouri Veterans Home Assistance, St. James, $100 sponsorship
Miss Lisa's Dance Exp., Cuba, $100 sponsorship
Dent County 4-H, Salem, $285 donation
Friends of the NRA, $270 sponsorship
LN Coffman, Salem, two payments for parade candy, $103.31 and $258.29.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Newpaper's advisory panel made up of stereotypes

The Springfield News-Leader editors Sunday introduced readers to the paper's latest Community Editorial Advisory Board.
As we take a look at these folks who are said to represent the Ozarks, see if you notice the same things I noticed. Here they are:

--Leslie Clary, 26, Nixa, social worker for a nonprofit agency providing services to people with disabilities. "Being a social worker, I tend to agree with the Democratic ideology of promoting social welfare programs and fighting social injustice, but I don't always go along party lines," the paper quoted her as saying. Here’s a youngster who has probably never worked in the private sector who acknowledges she usually wants to promote welfare. I wonder if she has a clue where the money to fund welfare comes from?
--Jennie L. Crain, 54, Nixa, a Republican and a trade school graduate, Her quote: “I bring a fair mind and willingness to listen to all sides with respect." Is this our token Republican?
--Duncan Craycroft, 52, a Democrat transplanted to Springfield from Orange County, Calif. "I am for health care, education, the environment, equality, gay rights, veteran support, transparency and accountability,“ the paper quoted him as saying. “I am against war of choice, intolerance, fundamentalism, self-serving politicians and the shrill rhetoric of talk radio." He’s a disabled volunteer at a hospital. Well, I applaud him for being a volunteer, but this guy represents everything I dislike about California transplants to Missouri.
--David Gibson, 63, Bolivar a retired machinist who claims to be an independent and declares himself "fed up with politicians." His quote: "I have an opinion and I usually let people know what it is. I can be persuaded with information based on facts." I don’t put much stock in “independents.” I respect liberals more than independents. At least liberals know what they believe in. Independents wait until someone comes along to persuade them.
--Wayne Groner, 70, Battlefield, a Republican who is a retired TV news anchor, Missouri state representative, college fundraising exec, freelance writer, and co-author of two books. Well, maybe we have a real conservative here, after all.
--Dr. Kenneth Herfkens, 70, of Springfield, retired internist and cardiologist. "I am a centrist Democrat with a strong interest in health care reform," he said in the paper. Here’s a wealthy doctor who as a Democrat likely will have no qualms about promoting ways to get into your pocket through tax increases.
--Sarah Harrington Johnson, 40, Ozark, a lawyer who chooses instead to stay home with two children. Another transplant, this one from South Carolina, Johnson described herself in the paper as a "former Democrat turned conservative Republican primarily due to fiscal concerns." Here’s more hope that a conservative viewpoint will be heard.
--Ian Mackey, 22, Springfield, a Head Start teacher. "I am certainly left of center, yet I view politics more as a battle of wills than ideas,” he told the paper. Notice here that we have another young liberal in a public sector job; probably hates profit.
--Viktor Markus, 63, Ozark, retired Department of Defense employee who says he’s a conservative who wants to serve on the advisory board because he believes "there are a lot of misconceptions about what federal employees contribute to society and the benefits they receive, especially in the area of health and retirement." I don’t know what to think about this guy. I guess he wants us to love bureaucrats more than we do.
--Nicole Pulliam, 30, Ozark, a Democrat, who works for Teletech as a member representative for United Health Group. Not enough information here to figure this panel member out.
--Brad Sturges, 47, Springfield is vice president /general manager of Springfield Freightliner. He says he is a "middle of the road conservative." Well, here’s an actual, by-golly businessman on the committee.
--Tammy Webb, 33, Springfield, a Democrat who lives as an openly gay woman. She said, "I feel I have an insight into many areas of the community that others don't have." I’d say that I agree with here. I’d say that I’m not to interested in knowing about some of those areas.

For the most part, the advisory panel looks to me to be made up of stereotypes: young liberals who have no clue about business, a retired bureaucrat wanting to try to improve the public perception of government workers, an independent with a self-admitted big mouth, a Califoreigner transplanted here who wants to promote all the crap that is bringing down his home state, and, of course, the openly gay member.
I’m not sure how often this panel of experts will meet or exactly what they will do. We’ll have to try to keep an eye on the Springfield paper.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Brown campaign files quarterly report

Dr. Dan Brown, of Rolla, Republican state representative for District 149, received $1,050 and spent $428.75 in the last three months.
According to the quarterly report filed Oct. 14 with the Missouri Ethics Commission, the Committee to Elect Dr. Dan Brown for the 149th, received $50 from the Committee to Elect Tom Flanigan, $500 from the Friends of Tilley and $500 from the Missouri Hospital Association.
Steven Tilley, R-Perryville, is the Majority Floor Leader. Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, is the District 127 representative.
The committee's three expenditures--$15, $253.75 and $160--all went to the Rolla Daily News.
A Breakfast Meet and Greet conducted by Michelle Colbert, Steelville, was held at Panera Bread Co. in Rolla on Sept. 16, but no money was collected or spent by the committee.

Old Newspapers Can Have Second Life in Garden

By David Burton
University Extension

Past copies of the daily or weekly newspaper can have a second life in your garden as mulch or a weed barrier according to Mark Bernskoetter, president of University of Missouri Extension’s Greene County Chapter of Master Gardeners.
“Newsprint (not slick paper used in inserts or magazines) is a great tool for the garden,” said Bernskoetter. “Even newsprint with color pictures is generally fine since most use biodegradable and water-soluble inks that won't harm the environment.”
Whether a person is creating a new flower bed, a mulched area around a tree, or covering paths between rows in a vegetable garden, newspaper has all the great properties expected and wanted from organic mulches.
“When you lay newsprint out several (4 to 10) sheets thick and overlap one group of sheets onto the next, you create a weed barrier that will smother out many existing plants. It will also preserve moisture so you don't need to worry about watering as often,” said Bernskoetter.
Newsprint will dissolve in a few weeks or months, leaving behind no residual mess.
If a gardener wants a nicer look, after laying down the newspaper, cover it with mulch.
“I would not put wood chips in my vegetable garden, but straw is a great cover between rows. On the other hand, I would not put straw in my flower beds in front of the house since I think wood mulch looks better,” said Bernskoetter.
Using newspaper as a mulch or weed barrier results in a cost savings. But remember, it will take a lot of newspaper to cover an entire garden.
“Newsprint can be used in composting too. Just shred it up and add it to your compost pile as dry or brown matter,” said Bernskoetter.
For more information, contact the Master Gardener’s Hotline in Greene County, or University of Missouri Extension Horticulture Specialist Patrick Byers, at (417) 862-9284.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday websites for you use and enjoyment

Here are five websites for Wednesday that you will find useful in your chores around the house. We have a Home How-to section here at The Ozarks Almanac with new articles usually appearing on Saturday, and today, the Wednesday websites are all related to home improvement:

Lowe's How To Library

Fine Woodworking Projects and Design

How to Build a Storage Shed

Hometime How To Articles

The Family Handyman Advice & Know How

For your enjoyment, here's one of ways primarily NOT to fix things on your home and car:

There I Fixed It

Monday, October 12, 2009

Urban deer harvest up 83 percent

By Jim Low
Department of Conservation

JEFFERSON CITY–Hunters checked 1,242 deer during the Urban Portion of Missouri’s Firearms Deer Season Oct. 9 through 12.
Boone County led harvest totals with 247 deer checked, followed by St. Charles County with 160. Greene County was third with 139. The harvest consisted of 80 percent does.
Other county harvest figures were Cass, 89; Christian, 10; Clay, 121; Cole, 39; Franklin, 86; Jackson, 85; Jefferson, 81; Platte, 93; St. Louis, 92.
This year’s Urban Portion deer harvest was nearly double last year’s and more than twice the 2007 harvest. Unseasonably warm weather, with daytime highs in the 70s and 80s, probably played a role in holding down deer harvests those years. Deer use less energy in warm weather and are less likely to move around, reducing their visibility.
Past harvest totals from the urban portion of firearms deer season are 2003, 129; 2004, 2,077; 2005, 1,838; 2006, 1,348; 2007, 554; 2008, 678.
The Missouri Conservation Commission approved the first urban deer hunt in 2003. The Urban Portion encourages hunters to shoot female deer around the state’s main urban centers.
Controlling deer populations in and around the St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia-Jefferson City areas has been more difficult than in rural areas, where hunting is more common. The growth of deer numbers in those areas resulted in increased frequency of deer-vehicle accidents and damage to landscape plantings and crops. In extreme cases, deer browsing can cause ecological damage.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Martins will perform bluegrass gospel music Oct. 18

Don't miss The Martins, a bluegrass family band from Jefferson City, who will perform a bluegrass gospel concert at Macedonia Baptist Church at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18.
The church has hosted a gospel bluegrass series this summer. Others who have performed have inlcuded The Ozark Alliance, The Link Family and Southern Raised.
There's no charge, but being Southern Baptists, we will take up an offering.
And also, being Baptists, we'll have food and fellowship afterwards in the church basement.
It's lots of fun, so we hope to see you there.
To get to Macedonia Baptist Church, go 5 miles north on Highway 63 from Interstate 44 in Rolla. Turn right at the rock quarry road and go a couple of miles. You'll see the church on the right and the cemetery on the left.
Here's a performance by The Martins on a Columbia TV show:

Sunday sermon

Friday, October 9, 2009

Weakest president in my memory wins Nobel Peace Prize

By R.D. Hohenfeldt
Managing Editor, Ozarks Almanac

What a joke the news is today: President Barak Hussein Obama is the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The only Democrat who ever deserved the Nobel Peace Prize was President Harry S Truman, a Missourian. He ended World War II by showing the Japs we were a strong nation.

The Republican who most deserved the Nobel Peace Prize but never won it was Ronald W. Reagan; he ended the Cold War by making sure the United States was stronger than the Soviet Union.
I believe in peace through strength.

We have a president now, known as Abu Hussein in the Muslim World, who won the Nobel Peace Prize by apologizing to the world for our strength. He is a shameful excuse for a leader of the United States of America.

I pray he is voted out of office in November 2012.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Planting Cultivar Nuts Can Create Additional Source of Farm Income

By David Burton
University Extension

Missouri landowners who want to make extra money with agroforestry need to consider planting black walnut trees that are grafted to improved cultivars, according to Brian Hammons, CEO of Hammons Products Company in Stockton.
“Growing black walnut trees that have been grafted to improved cultivars have the potential for excellent production and a better financial return,” said Hammons. “The trend has been for farmers to grow them on their land, pick and sell them and make some extra money. But there is a potential to do much more using grafted trees.”
According to Hammons, if a landowner did a 40 acre planting of cultivar nuts (60x60 spacing = 480 trees) they could be producing as much as 80,000 pounds of nuts and generating an additional $56,000 income (about a $32,000 profit after hulling and hauling).
Not bad for land that can also still be used for grazing cattle.
“The ultimate success of a black walnut planting will be defined by the goals you set for the orchard before a single tree is planted,” said Jay Chism, an agronomy specialist with MU Extension who provides consulting services to Hammons Products.
Chism says there are three basic reasons for planting a black walnut orchard: to provide the family with black walnut kernels; to develop black walnut cultivars as a hobby; or to produce a commercially marketable nut crop.
“If commercial growth is the goal, then the production of thin-shelled nuts, which produce more high-quality nut meat, is only possible by growing black walnut trees that have been grafted to cultivars of known nut and tree characteristics,” said Chism. “Another key characteristic is finding a cultivar that will fruit every year.”
The University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry has put together a guide entitled, “Growing Black Walnuts for Nut Production,” which provides recommendations as part of a model to make additional money.
Missouri leads the world in black walnut production (65% of the black walnuts Hammons purchases from 15 states come from Missouri). Hammons credits some of that success to his company’s long-standing partnership with University of Missouri Extension.
“A new project that could result in a major change to the black walnut industry and farms in Missouri is a result of a long-term relationship between our company and University of Missouri Extension specialists,” said Hammons.
Even though wild nuts grown by landowners (who are basically hobbyists) do provide a certain amount of nut meats for consumers, Hammons says his company will pay more for growers of named cultivars.
In 2006, Hammons Products Company purchased 41,000 pounds of black walnuts from 11 growers with cultivars like Kwik Krop, Emma-K, TomBoy and others. These nuts were purchased at about .50 cents per pound and had a yield average of about 23.4 percent kernel.
“2006 results were average, with the highest price being .82 cents per pound. We expect well-managed orchards to produced nuts with higher yields and greater value,” said Hammons.
By comparison, the wild trees have a yield rate of about 7 percent kernel and are typically purchased for eight to 13 cents per pound.
“Our long-term goal is to have 5,000 acres of black walnut nut orchards. There would be a potential for 7.5 million pounds of cultivar nuts and would more than double the amount of nutmeats available every year. Many people have not discovered black walnuts, but supply has been the major issue,” said Hammons.
The next step toward this goal is to put together some 10-acre test plots for growing cultivar nuts.
“The economic model will help farmers plan how and where they are going to plant those trees and what they can expect to make from doing that,” said Hammons.
One test site will be at the University of Missouri’s Southwest Research Center in Mt. Vernon.
Researchers will be planting Kwik-Krop, Sparrow, Sauber, EmmaK cultivars with both 30 x 30 and 42 x 42 spacing. The economic analysis will be a critical part of the program and research.
MU Extension specialists as well as staff at Hammons Products Company – like Steve Rutledge and Jordan Prindle – can help a landowner get started with cultivar black walnuts.
For more information, contact the nearest MU Extension Center for available black walnut guide sheets, call Chism at (417) 682-3579, or visit Hammons Products online at

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday websites for your use and enjoyment

National Weather Service Springfield office

Weather Underground


Weather Matrix

National Weather Service Mosaic Loop

And now for your enjoyment, here's a website that will show you how to build a truly simple weather station, so you can get out your notebook or your spreadsheet program and start keeping track of the weather at your house:

How to Build Your Own Weather Station

Monday, October 5, 2009

Prospects bright for flashy fall foliage

Northeast Missouri is the only exception to this year’s bright fall foliage forecast. Cool, wet weather there has contributed to leaf diseases that could result in fall colors more bronze than gold.

By Jim Low
Missouri Department of Conservation

It’s October, when leaves blaze yellow, orange and red. Foresters with the Missouri Department of Conservation say this should be a good year for autumn color.

Warm, sunny days and cool nights favor the development of brilliant foliage. Trees stop producing green pigment when nighttime lows fall into the 50s and 60s, and sugars stored in leaves undergo chemical changes that turn them every outrageous shade in the rainbow.

Fall color almost always peaks around Oct. 15 in Missouri, and this year appears to be typical. Trees in the northern and southern parts of the state may change colors a week earlier or later.

Certain local weather conditions can cause fall colors to be less vivid. For instance, heavy rains at this time of year can flush pigments out of leaves, reducing color. Foresters in northeast Missouri say wet, cool conditions there and increased prevalence of leaf diseases could make colors more bronze than gold in some areas.

Drought or strong wind sometimes causes premature leaf drop. But barring such conditions, Missouri’s fall color outlook is bright.

For fall color updates, visit

For more suggested fall color viewing routes and information about why trees turn colors in the fall, visit, or write to: MDC, Follow the Show of Missouri’s Fall Colors, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180. You also can e-mail and request “Follow the Show of Missouri’s Fall Colors.”

Friday, October 2, 2009

That's What I Think: Lessons in fairness should begin on the sports field, in class

The other day as I was driving home from work, listening to the Sean Hannity talk show, I heard a caller say that an author who had earned $1 million in book sales should have to give up at least half of that to the government for taxes so it could be redistributed to welfare programs.

Redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor seems to be catching on, and the more I hear about it, the more I like it.

If you make more money than me (and you very likely do), I think the government ought to take some of that money you have earned and give it to me. If you are opposed to that idea, I can think of only one word to describe you: Greedy.

Why would you not want to help me? It isn't fair that you make more money than I, is it? I work hard every day, just as I have for several decades. I did chores around the house and the homestead when I was a kid. I helped weed the garden. I started working summers when I was in junior high school. I worked all the way through my university years and have had a job ever since. I have done lots of different things: sprayed trees, planted shrubs and helped with landscaping, flipped burgers and made fries, wiped old people's bottoms and cleaned up their puke, filed stuff in drawers in professor's offices, edited newspapers, sold advertising, wrote news and took pictures, worked the circulation desk at the library. Now I operate a forklift and other power equipment, cull lumber, load bags of Quikrete onto trucks and trailers, stock shelves with merchandise and put up signs and displays in a retail home improvement store.

Let me repeat: I work hard and always have. Nevertheless, you make more money than I and that isn't fair. The government should force you to give some of that to me.

President Obama told Joe the Plumber that he ought to be willing to help people who don't have it as good as ole Joe did, in other words, people like me. I'm looking for some Obama money, and I know where Obama is going to get that money. He's going to get it from you.

The president was elected on a platform of hope and change, and I believe it is time for a change throughout society. We need to start teaching redistribution of wealth in public school in a couple of ways.

One way we can do it is through sports. For instance, the Rolla High School Bulldogs varsity football team has won eight games this season and has lost none. That is pure unadulterated Greed with a capital G. The Missouri State High School Sports Association (MSHSAA) should take away some of those wins and redistribute them to schools that have worked hard but have not won as many games, schools like Waynesville, for instance. We need to even out these wins and losses. It is unfair to have some schools do so well and others not on the athletic field.

What is it teaching our young people that some teams win more often than others each season? Now some would say that the winning teams are learning the benefits of hard work and the losing teams are learning persistence and character. Fiddle-faddle. The winning teams are learning greed and arrogance, while the losing teams are learning hopelessness and futility. It is high time the government (MSHSAA) stepped in and fixed this problem by redistributing the wealth of wins. That would teach the winning teams the value of brotherhood while teaching the losing teams that the government will always be there to bail them out.

In the classroom, the same kind of thing is going on. Some students are making many A's and B's, while some are making D's and F's. Those greedy honor students need to be required to give up their A's and B's to the poor students making D's and F's so everyone can make a fair and equitable C.

As we use the public education system to teach youngsters the fairness of redistribution of the wealth of wins or grades, they'll understand the fairness of redistributing the financial wealth when they enter the work force. They won't complain about sending some of their money to me.

This is to be the legacy of the Obama administration.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Take Steps Now to Prevent Sunscald on Thin-Barked Trees

By David Burton
University Extension

Homeowners who planted new trees this year, especially ones with thin bark, will want to protect the southwest side of the new tree this winter to protect it from sunscald.
Many young, smooth, thin-barked trees like honey locusts, fruit trees, ashes, oaks, maples, lindens, red buds and willows are susceptible to sunscald and bark cracks according to John Hobbs, agriculture and rural development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“Sunscald normally develops on the south or southwest side of a tree during late winter,” said Hobbs. “Sunscald and bark cracks can lead to the death of a tree if it is not given special care.”
According to Hobbs, sunny, warm winter days may heat the bark to relatively high temperatures. Temperatures in southwest Missouri may not reach the same extremes as in Georgia, but research done in Georgia shows that the southwest side of the trunk on a peach tree can be 40 degrees warmer than shaded bark in the winter.
“This warming action can cause a loss of cold hardiness of the bark tissue resulting in cells becoming active,” said Hobbs. “These cells then become susceptible to lethal freezing when the temperature drops at night.”
The damaged bark tissue becomes sunken and discolored in late spring. Damaged bark will eventually crack and slough off. Trees will often recover but will need some lots of extra care, especially watering during dry weather, according to Hobbs.
To prevent sunscald, the trunks of susceptible trees can be covered with tree wrap in October or November. Hobbs recommends applying tree wrap from the ground to the start of the first branches to protect recently planted trees.
“Tree wrap must be removed in March to prevent girdling and possible insect damage. Until the bark has thickened on young trees, they may need to be wrapped yearly,” said Hobbs.
Another product that can be used on the trunk is tree paint. White latex paint is often used in orchards to help prevent splitting and cracking by reflecting light and heat from the tree trunk. Due to aesthetic reasons, most homeowners are not interested in using tree paints.
Both tree paints and wraps can be found at local garden centers and nurseries.
For more information contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension center or call Hobbs at (417) 223-4775.