Friday, July 31, 2009

Maple Trees are More Susceptible to Borer Insects

By David Burton
University Extension

Red maples are a preferred landscape tree by many homeowners.
However, young maple trees are particularly susceptible to bores that may damage or kill young trees according to Jay Chism, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
Insect borers are immature or larval stages of insects that feed on wood. Most bores are attracted to trees that are weakened through some type of injury.
Maple trees under any type of stress are more vulnerable to damage.
The bark over infested areas often is dead and cracking. Young trees can be girdled and killed, and even larger trees can be injured by losing large areas of bark.
Adult beetles typically begin emerging in May and lay eggs from June to September.
Once trees are infected the larvae can be carefully removed with a sharp knife. Applying insecticides like Sevin or permethrin to the trunk and larger limbs may provide some control.
Because the egg-laying occurs over a long period of time, monthly insecticide applications may be needed over the course of the summer. Please read the label carefully before using any chemical for proper rates and application procedures.
“Prune and destroy dying branches, and keep trees healthy and growing vigorously,” said Chism.
For more information, see guide sheet G7190, “Insect Borers of Fruit Trees,” which is available at all MU Extension Centers or online at Chism can be contacted in Barton County at (417) 682-3579.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pack a Healthful Sack Lunch Says Nutrition Specialist

“Back to School” time means it is also time to start thinking about what children eat during the school day according to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“If your child takes their lunch to school, be sure to provide a healthful variety for them. What a child eats impacts their learning and behavior, as well as growth and development,” said Roberts.
When packing a healthy sack lunch, Roberts says the first step is to consider the container itself.
“Paper bags can sometimes get dropped and stepped on before the lunch hour. If you are sending things that need to be kept cold, an insulated bag may be the best choice. There is also a good selection of plastic and metal containers that will hold up well,” said Roberts.
A healthy school lunch should include a good source of protein, calcium, grains and a fruit or vegetable (or both). Since children have been known to trade food, Roberts says to be sure and send selections your child will not want to trade.
“It also helps if you let your child help make the decision about what goes in their lunch by letting them choose from a list of healthful foods,” said Roberts.
Children need whole grains too and according to Roberts, there is a whole grain white bread now. Other whole wheat choices could include crackers, pita and tortillas.
Protein foods could be a lean meat, tuna, or peanut butter. The possibilities for fruits and vegetables are endless. Yogurt and cheese are great calcium options but it is also easy to have children purchase low fat milk at school.
“There are ways you can get several food groups into one entrĂ©e,” said Roberts. “Try having a lean ham sandwich on a bagel with low fat cream cheese, grated carrots, and a slice of pineapple. Another possible option would be a pasta salad with cheese chunks, fresh vegetables, grapes and sunflower seeds.”
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If you see a black man forcing open a door, don't call 911

By R.D. Hohenfeldt

Managing Editor, Ozarks Almanac

Thank God I live in a small town in Missouri where neighbors care about neighbors, and law-abiding people respect the police.

It seems pretty clear from the news that Boston people don't feel the same.

I'm sure you know what I'm talking about: A white police officer was summoned to a home when a woman called 911 and reported a possible burglary. Well, it turned out a black professor was forcing his way into his own home because of a problem with the door. What should have happened, what would have happened in any small town, was a "thank you for responding so quickly" from the black professor to the cop and a "thank you for watching my home" from the professor to the woman who called 911. What happened instead was the black Harvard professor went nuts, lost control of himself, started calling the cop a racist, used bad language and insulted the cop's mother. The cop arrested the professor for disturbing the peace, although the charges were later dropped, of course, because he was a Harvard professor. The professor went on talk shows calling the officer a "rogue cop" and a "racist." Even President Barack H. Obama got involved, calling the Boston police department stupid.

The news reported today that the lady who dialed 911 has been targeted for all kinds of insults and accusations. Here's an excerpt from an Associated Press story on Yahoo:

With a trembling voice, Lucia Whalen, 40, said she was out walking to lunch in Gates' Cambridge neighborhood near Harvard University when an elderly woman without a cell phone stopped her because she was concerned there was a possible burglary in progress.

Whalen says she was vilified on blogs as a racist after a police report said she described the possible burglars as "two black males with backpacks." Her lawyer has said mainstream media outlets and bloggers had concluded she was a privileged white neighbor.

Tapes of the call released earlier this week revealed that Whalen, a first-generation Portuguese-American who doesn't live in the area, did not mention race. When pressed by a dispatcher on whether the men were white, black or Hispanic, she said one of them might have been Hispanic.

I've often wondered why there were news stories from time to time about city people not wanting to "get involved" when they saw a crime occurring. Now it's clearer to me whey they look the other way.

If you lived in a city and saw someone trying to force open a door of a home, would you call the cops? You probably would not call 911 now, especially if the apparent burglar was black. Instead, you would think, "That might be his home. Or he might be a relative of the homeowner. I believe I'll just mind my own business."

It's quite possible that black criminals have got this figured out and are now starting to target upscale black homes in the cities, knowing that neighbors won't get involved now for fear of being labeled a racist and treated like that lady who made the 911 call. Well, on second thought, they're probably too stupid to figure that out. (No, they're not stupid because they're black, they're stupid because they're criminals.)

I'm glad I live in Rolla, Mo., where people have got some common sense. Well, most of them do.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New trend in newspaper writing?

It's been almost five years since I worked for a daily newspaper, so I'm not up on the latest writing trends. I always preferred the inverted pyramid method of covering a news story: Put the most important facts first, then move on to the trivia.

I guess the new way of writing is opposite, for The Rolla Daily News, part of the GateHouse Media, so it's on the cutting edge, started out a story about a big drug bust this way:

It was a quiet, cool, clear summer morning. Dew-soaked lawns glistened in the sun as it broke above the trees.

At a residence in the 1000 block of Ninth Street, all was quiet inside.

Outside, there was activity in the yard. Hummingbirds were busily siphoning nectar from a red and clear plastic feeder hanging from a soffit. A rabbit hopped across the yard, barely bothered by the four law-enforcement officers and another who took positions at the front door, side and rear of the home.

Their actions were synchronized, accomplished without a word.
When all exits were watched and accounted for, then came the command that breached the the morning calm.

“Phelps County Sheriff’s Department and Missouri State Highway Patrol. Open the door!”

That news story has the morning dew, hummingbirds, bunny rabbits--but no names of people arrested. I waded my way through the whole story, but never found the names. Maybe they were in another story.

Oh, well, I've written some stinkers I wish I could take back, so I'll not criticize too much.--RDH

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stone County Couple Finds Volunteering Rewarding

Ken and Rose Schwarte of Branson West moved to the Ozarks to relax and retire and ended up finding a way to enjoy the rewards of volunteering.
In 2006 they attended and graduated from University of Missouri Extension’s Master Gardener training program.
After receiving 30 hours of basic horticulture training on a variety of topics, the Schwartes put the new knowledge to work on their home. They created a garden oasis in the back yard amid the challenging Stone County rock and soil.
Then one May night in 2008, a knock on the door came from neighbor Janice Sallee. She told the Schwartes of a camp that was putting gardens around cabins and wanted to know if the Master Gardeners would help.
The Schwartes agreed, went out to the Kids Across America camp and found an almost impossible task.
“Kids were going to be checking in to the camp in days. Flats and flats of plants were ready to be put in the ground. And the ground, well if you call rock and clay ground, was a challenge,” said Rose.
“That first year heart breaking; the flowers had nothing to grow in and no water,” said Ken.
Kids Across America (KAA) coordinator Dave Jahnlee asked the Schwarte's to help for 2009.
"I told him he would need to get us some soil, some compost, and water" said Ken.
Flowers were purchased from College of the Ozarks. The Schwartes went to work and the gardens started to take shape.
The numerous gardens in front of the cabins, barrels with flowers, cactus gardens at the entrance, and the near 40 hanging baskets, were all in place and ready for the campers to arrive.
Master Gardeners Ken and Rose Schwarte have donated over 250 hours to this project according to Tim Schnakenberg, agronomy specialist with University of Missouri Extension and coordinator of the Master Gardener program in Stone and Taney counties.
"A lot of work and some frustrations but all in all we are very pleased in the progress made in the landscaping this year,” said Ken.
The camp is now quiet and done for the summer. Ken and Rose are also active in other projects around the Ozarks. But each spring is reserved for the Kids Across America camp.
If you would like to know more about the Master Gardeners of the Ozarks chapter, call the University of Missouri Extension Center in Stone County at (417) 357-6812.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

It's an option as long as you choose it

By R.D. Hohenfeldt
Managing Editor, Ozarks Chronicle

Sen. Claire McCaskill has been saying she supports the Obama health care reform because nationalized health care is just one "option," and she believes in choice and competition. Other sources report that there really is no option and private insurance will be phased out. Here's a link to a report:

This reminds me of the dreaded Christmas parties at the Rolla Daily News. Sowers would put a sign-up sheet on his desk, and we were required to sign up for it. These parties were horrendous affairs and any person with dignity didn't want to go.

"Is attendance mandatory?" someone once asked Sowers.

"No, it's voluntary," he said. "But if you don't sign up, I'll make it mandatory."

This seems to be what Obama is telling the taxpayers about national socialized medicine.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Master Gardener Uses Training to Help People in Third World Countries Grow Food

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

LeAnn Bachman has taken the principles she learned during the 2008 University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener training in Springfield, Mo., to teach people in countries like El Salvador and the Philippines how to be more self-sufficient.

“At the very first Master Gardener class, I told them my purpose for taking the class was to gain knowledge that I would be able to use in third world countries as I work with the Seeds of Hope project through Convoy of Hope,” said Bachman.

Bachman and her husband farmed in the fertile Red River Valley of North Dakota for over 30 years before devoting their lives to mission work and moving to Springfield.

She enrolled in the Master Gardener program in Greene County and says the classes helped her to become aware of new gardening issues and broadened her overall knowledge about growing food.

Now, Bachman is travelling to various countries trying to help people realize the value of growing their own food.

“One thing we find in almost every country we visit is that people will grow ornamental plants in containers, but not vegetables. These containers might be tires that have been filled with dirt or even wooden crates with plastic liners,” said Bachman.

She has used her Master Gardener training to teach others how to grow tomatoes or peppers in larger, deeper containers, and radishes and lettuce, and other smaller vegetable types in wooden crates.

“Many of the places we go have no soil available for planting a big garden, but people always seem to have plants growing in something....sometimes just a tin can. We are trying to help them realize they can provide much more for their families, with what little they have,” said Bachman.

The other thing she is teaching people in Third World countries is the importance of putting organic matter back in the soil.

“Most of the countries use the slash and burn method to clear land after a crop is harvested. We are teaching them very simple composting, or even burying vegetation back in the soil to add organic material into very nutrient depleted soils,” said Bachman.

The Seeds of Hope project is still in its early stages and success can’t be reported from every situation where work has been done.

“ But even where we have not gotten the results in produce we would have liked, we have seen that we have taught the people the importance of doing this and they are taking ownership of the projects and are willing to try again,” said Bachman.

For more information about the Master Gardener program or to request information about the 2010 class, call the Greene County Extension Center at (417) 862-9284.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

To Clip or Not to Clip, That is the Beef Producers Dilemma

By David Burton
University Extension

Late July is the time of the grazing season when cattle farmers tussle with the question, “should I clip my pastures that look a little ragged with weeds and old, cool season grass seedheads?”

According to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, each pasture presents a different situation, so it is difficult to give a blanket recommendation.

“Much of the raggedness may have resulted from mismanagement early in the grazing season. Stocking rates could have been fairly light as the grazing season started. As a result, some of the pasture gets away from the cattle and they resort to spot grazing,” said Cole.

Weeds and brush may be part of the problem as they encroach on a good pasture that was a victim of overgrazing, drought of low fertility. Even abundant rainfall can negatively alter the best plans.

Cole says there are several considerations farmers need to look at before getting out the brush hog in early August.

“Consider cost, because the cost per acre varies and the benefits may not justify the expense of clipping,” said Cole.

Appearance of the property is also a consideration. “Some landowners value the attractiveness of their pastures due to their neighborhood. For example, purebred beef operations strive to have neat surroundings and they may be able to justify the cost of clipping,” said Cole.

Landowners need to consider the extent of the weed or mature grass problems, whether or not clipping would damage clovers or lespedeza stands, and whether or not money spent on a timely herbicide application would be a better investment.

It is also important to consider whether clipping now will benefit fescue growth for fall stockpiling?

“Stockpiled fescue is much higher in nutritional value when a pasture is clipped about this time of year,” said Cole. “And another important consideration is whether or not you have spare time and equipment to do the clipping or would you have to hire it done?”

For more information on the pros and cons of late summer weed clipping, contact the University of Missouri Extension agronomist or livestock specialist at the nearest MU Extension Center.

The following agronomy specialists are in southwest Missouri: Tim Schnakenberg in Stone County, (417) 357-6812; Jay Chism in Barton County, 417) 682-3579; John Hobbs in McDonald County, (417) 223-4775 or Brie Menjoulet in Hickory County, (417) 745-6767.

The following MU Extension livestock specialists are in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102; Gary Naylor in Dallas County, (417) 345-7551; and Dona Funk in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

For Easy Identification of Cattle, Specialist Says to Consider Freeze Branding

By David Burton
University Extension

For over 40 years there has been an issue among beef cattle producers on what is the most effective, reasonably-priced means to individually identify animals.
Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says that over the years, beef producers have tried neck chains, ear tags, brisket tags, tattoos, brands and electronic ear tags to individually identify cattle. Each of the methods has pros and cons.
In the 1960’s a technique known as Cyro Branding was introduced. It involved super cooling of copper branding irons and when the iron was applied for a period of time to the hair and hide of an animal it destroyed the natural hair color on non-white cattle. When new hair came back in it was white.
The process was less painful to the animals and hide damage was minimal compared to hot iron branding. Freeze branding was viewed as very acceptable for within herd identification, but would likely be unacceptable for ownership brands. Since that time several states, including Missouri, have accepted freeze branding as an ownership brand.
Remember the brand should last the lifetime of the animal and save you considerable expense in ear tags and frustration over lost identity of cattle for your production records.
“The best feature of a freeze brand is that it is permanent and readable from a distance. The brand should last the lifetime of the animal and save a producer considerable expense in ear tags and frustration over lost identity of cattle for your production records,” said Cole.
The biggest problems are that CyroBranding can be time consuming to apply, securing the equipment and supplies for branding is not always easy and if you’re not careful, some of the brands do not come out clearly.
Cole says that although CyroBranding has been used for over 40 years, it has not been perfected. However, some folks can get readable brands most of the time.
According to Cole, they key ingredients to a readable brand appear to be the following.
* Copper irons one-quarter thick; 1 inch to 1 ½ inches from face to back and 4 inches high.
* Hair clippers suitable for close clipping.
* The coolant may be a mix of dry ice and 95 percent isopropyl, ethyl or methyl alcohol. Dry ice in gasoline can be used as well as liquid nitrogen.
* At least two persons and a good squeeze chute.
* A stop-watch or watch with an easily visible second hand.
* And patience.
Depending on the number of characters in the brand, Cole says it may take three to 10 minutes per animal to brand.
“The ear tag has probably met with the greatest acceptance, but they do get pulled out, the numbers fade and sometimes they are hard to read from a distance,” said Cole.
For more information on freeze branding cattle 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.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Toxic invader revealing its presence in Missouri

By Jim Low
Conservation Department

Missourians, to arms! An invading army is sneaking across Missouri’s borders hidden in bales of hay, poisoning Show-Me natives and taking over thousands of acres of prime pasture and wildlife habitat. Now is the time to attack, while they are most exposed.

That sounds overblown, especially when you discover the “invaders” are wildflowers. However, according to agriculture and conservation experts, Missouri is, indeed, in the midst of a serious invasion, and summer is the best time for landowners to mount a counteroffensive.

The invader is spotted knapweed, Centaurea stoebe. The 2-foot-tall perennial, bedecked with attractive, fringy pink blossoms, is a member of the aster family. It probably arrived in the United States in the late 1800s in contaminated hay or seed from Eurasia. Since then it has spread over 45 states. It can survive in a wide range of conditions, and it thrives in heavily disturbed sites, such as roadsides and agricultural field margins.

Unlike aster species native to Missouri, spotted knapweed’s roots produce chemicals that are toxic to other plants. It produces up to 1,000 seeds per plant. Once established, seeds accumulate, often exceeding 5,000 per square foot of soil. The seeds remain viable for at least eight years.

With dual strategy, spotted knapweed’s conquest can be surprisingly rapid. Seeds strewed along roads by trucks transporting contaminated hay and by roadside mowing quickly sprout in roadside ditches. Two years later a phalanx of flowery invaders is ready to storm bordering pastures and woodlands.

“This is a very bad plant,” says Tim Banek, invasive species coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation. “It can go from small infestations to being out of control almost before you know it. Controlling an infestation when it first starts is much easier than tackling one that covers dozens of acres.”

Looking at a stand of spotted knapweed, with pink blossoms waving in the wind, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Banek said the invader, which is on Missouri’s official list of noxious weeds, is a problem for several reasons.

“It is bad news for wildlife because it tends to root out native vegetation and form monocultures over huge areas. It is not a good wildlife food plant, and biological diversity takes a nosedive when spotted knapweed takes over.”

Spotted knapweed is bad for agriculture, too. Pastures infested with it become less palatable and nutritious for livestock. In Montana alone, it caused $42 million in agricultural losses in 1996.

Early discovery of spotted knapweed infestations requires a close look at the ground. The plant produces only a flat rosette of leaves during its first year, as it builds a deep taproot.

Banek said spotted knapweed is an excellent candidate for “IPM” – integrated pest management. This means attacking invaders with a combination of physical measures, such as pulling plants, applying herbicides and using biological controls.

“The infestation in southern Missouri has gotten too large to control with herbicides alone,” said Banek. “Biological controls don’t produce quick results, but they provide long-term control that complements other methods. At this point, it looks like an integrated approach is the only way to deal with spotted knapweed.”

The Missouri Department of Transportation is using herbicide to control infestations along state highways. The Conservation Department, the Missouri Department of Transportation and MU Extension Service have been releasing two species of weevils that eat spotted knapweed seed heads and bore into the plants’ roots. The Conservation Department is evaluating the insects’ effectiveness on Cover Conservation and Tingler Prairie Natural Area in Howell County and along Highway 142, which runs near the Arkansas border in south-central Missouri.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has tested these insects on native plants and approved them for release. However, a permit is required before they can be released. The insects have been effective in other states. So far, they have not been found to affect any non-target plants.

The weevil trials are among the first in Missouri. Wider use of these and other biological controls could follow if the trials produce good results.

Photos of spotted knapweed in different growth phases and information about controlling infestations are available from MU Extension centers or at Missourians who would like to know more about spotted knapweed should contact Banek by calling 573-522-4115, ext. 3371, or by e-mail at

Friday, July 17, 2009

Butterflies benefit gardens and gardeners

By David Burton
University Extension

Nearly 200 species of butterflies call Missouri home, including the monarch, painted lady and great spangled fritillary. According to Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension, this large variety makes butterfly gardening both easy and fun.
"The first step to enticing butterflies into your garden is to locate it in full sun. Butterflies are sun lovers because they need the sun to warm their flight muscles. Another reason to site your butterfly garden in full sun is that many nectar-producing plants favor full sun," said Byers.
Byers recommend placing flat rocks in sunny spots to give butterflies something to warm up on. It is also important to provide shelter from the wind and colorful plants, especially those that are yellow, red, orange, purple and dark pink.
"Butterflies prefer flowers that provide a fresh, constant source of nectar, like milkweeds and many herbs. In general, butterflies are not attracted to plants that have fancy double flowers because these frequently have been bred for show at the expense of nectar," said Byers.
Some of the nectar plants that are best at attracting butterflies are blazing stars, asters, coneflowers, milkweeds, coreopsis, butterfly bush, single-flowered zinnias and lantana.
Other good choices for a butterfly garden include marigolds, bee balm, sunflowers, phlox, cosmos, lilac, rose verbena, New Jersey tea and heliotrope. Numerous wildflowers like goldenrods and ironweed may not be tidy enough for a formal garden but they could be included in a naturalized area or at the back of a garden bed.
"An important consideration in selecting plants is to pick species for a succession of blooming times in order to have nectar throughout the season. Nectar sources both early and late in the season are valuable because food can be in short supply at these times," said Byers.
Many of these food plants are common trees but they also include violets, dill, parsley, milkweeds, thistles, pawpaw and spicebush.
One way to extend the blooming period is to prune plants back early in the season to delay blooming and prolong the flowering period.
For more information, contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center or the Greene County Master Gardener Hotline at (417) 862-9284.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pack a Perfect Pickled Product

By David Burton
University Extension

Nearly anything can be pickled -- from cabbage to peaches to a variety of relishes – according to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

“It is generally a fairly easy process but there are some important things to know to assure pickles are safe to eat and state fair quality,” said Roberts.

The main ingredients used for pickling are acid, salt, sugar and spices. Lime and alum are also sometimes used to make crisper pickles.

The amount of acid, or vinegar, in pickles is very important for the safety of the pickles. For this reason, it is important to use a tested recipe when making pickles to assure there is enough acidity to prevent the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that cause botulism.

“You can use either white or cider vinegar that has five percent acidity. Never use homemade vinegar for pickling because you can’t be sure of the acidity,” said Roberts.

Only use salt that is sold for canning and pickling. Regular table salt contains an anti-caking material that can make the brine cloudy. Never alter the amount of salt in fermented pickles or sauerkraut. Salt is the ingredient that helps to assure proper fermentation.

“If a recipe calls for sugar use white sugar unless the recipe specifically calls for brown. White sugar gives the end product a lighter color. If you want to use a sugar substitute, find a tested recipe that was developed using a sugar substitute,” said Roberts.

Heat and storage can cause some sugar substitutes to become bitter or have an off flavor. It isn’t recommended that you substitute corn syrup or honey for sugar in pickle recipes as they can also produce undesirable flavors.

For the best quality of pickles use whole or fresh spices. For lighter colored pickles, tie spices loosely in a cheesecloth bag before placing them in the jar.

The calcium in lime can improve pickle firmness but must be very carefully used. Follow instructions carefully for using lime when making pickles.

“Using lime involves soaking and rinsing pickles several times. This is because lime left on the cucumbers can change the pH of the pickles increasing the risk for botulism,” said Roberts.

It is best to use only food-grade lime which can often be found with canning products at the store. Alum can be used for crisper fermented cucumbers but doesn’t work for quick process pickles.

For a safe method of firming pickles, Roberts also recommends soaking cucumbers in ice water four to five hours before making your pickles.

For more information and recipes, see University of Missouri Extension guide sheets at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Making Jams and Jellies Takes Extra Time

So much work goes in to picking and preparing fruit to make jellied products that you want to be sure it turns out the way you expected.
That is why Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, regularly offer tips that are key to making successful jams and jellies.
“Pectin is used to help the fruit to gel. There is naturally some pectin in fruit and there is more pectin in fruit that is just under-ripe,” said Roberts.
That is why the recommendation for making jellied products without added pectin is to use three-fourths fully ripe fruit and one-quarter slightly under-ripe fruit in the recipe. Some fruits (like tart apples, sour plums, concord grapes, gooseberries, and crabapples) can be used to make jelly with no added pectin included.
“If you are using pectin in your recipe, follow the recipe exactly. You cannot substitute liquid pectin for dry or vice-versa,” said Roberts.
She also recommends using a large heavy metal pot during the process because jams and jellies tend to boil over. The heavy metal allows for more even heat distribution.
“I also recommend not doubling a recipe when making jelly because a doubled recipe does not always gel properly,” said Roberts.
For persons who have made a batch of jelly but have been unhappy with the consistency, there are some general recommendations for changing the consistency of the end product in the next batch.
“If your first batch was too firm, try using one-quarter to one-half cup more of the fruit or juice in the next batch. If the first batch was too soft, you can decrease the fruit or juice by one-quarter to one-half cup. If you are using a recipe with no added pectin and want to make a softer jelly, decrease the cooking time. If you would like to make a firmer product, increase the cooking time,” said Roberts.
Some people may want to make jelly with products other than sugar. To make a lower calorie spread, there are special pectins made just for that purpose.
Corn syrup or honey can be substituted for part of the sugar in recipes but Roberts says too much can mask the flavor of the fruit. When using corn syrup or honey, recipes with no added pectin may require longer boiling. Those that have pectin added may need less liquid.
“A general rule of thumb is to leave out one to two tablespoons of juice for every one-quarter cup of honey or corn syrup in the recipe,” said Roberts.
Up to two cups of honey can replace two cups of sugar in products made with added pectin. Honey can replace half of the sugar in recipes using no added pectin.
Corn syrup can replace one-quarter of the sugar in jams and jellies without added pectin and can replace up to one-half of the sugar when powdered pectin is used.
“One last thing to remember is that putting the lid on the jar does not seal the deal. All jams and jellies need to be processed in sterilized jars in a boiling water bath for five minutes to assure maximum food safety,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Drinking with a Redneck Girl

Another one that showed up in my e-mail:

A Mexican, an Arab, and a redneck girl are in the same bar.

When the Mexican finishes his beer, he throws his glass in the air, pulls out his pistol, and shoots the glass to pieces. He says, "In Mexico, our glasses are so cheap we don't need to drink with the same one twice."

The Arab, obviously impressed by this, drinks his beer, throws it into the air, pulls out his AK-47, and shoots the glass to pieces. He says, "In the Arab World, we have so much sand to make glasses that we don't need to drink with the same one twice either ."

The redneck girl, cool as a cucumber, picks up her beer , downs it in one gulp, throws the glass into the air, whips out her 45, and shoots the Mexican and the Arab. Catching her glass, setting it on the bar, and calling for a refill, she says,

"In America we have so many illegal Mexicans and Arabs that we don't have to drink
with the same ones twice."

"God Bless America"

Monday, July 13, 2009

Give till it hurts

Received in my e-mail:

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam going
into downtown Chicago. Nothing is
moving north or south. Suddenly a man
knocks on his window. The driver rolls
down his window and asks, ''What
happened, what's the hold up?''

''Terrorists have kidnapped Barack Obama,
Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Nancy
Pelosi, Harry Reid, Rosie O'Donnell, Jesse
Jackson and Al Sharpton.

They are asking for a $10 million ransom.
Otherwise, they are going to douse them
with gasoline and set them on fire. We are
going from car to car, taking up a collection.''

The driver asks, ''On average, how much is
everyone giving?''

''About a gallon.''

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bees, Mulch and Beans Popular Topics of Calls to Master Gardener Hotline

Trained volunteers working the University of Missouri Extension Master Gardener hotline in Greene County receive about 50 calls per week during the summer from homeowners and gardeners seeking informed advice.

Recently, many callers to the hotline were concerned about bees, using oak leaves for mulch and fighting off rust on beans. But there were plenty of gardeners with other concerns too.

The following are some of the most popular questions and answers from the past week.

Q: What are the best strawberry varieties to use?

A: See MU Guide sheet G6135 at for the pros and cons of different varieties. Everbearing varieties like Ozarks Beauty are very popular and easy to grow.

Q: I have bees that have built inside the wall of our barn. What can I do?

A: Some Master Gardener chapters have bee keepers that will volunteer to come and remove honey bee hives. However, if your bees are building inside the wall of your barn they are most likely carpenter bees. MU Extension has a guide sheet on getting rid of carpenter bees at

Q: I have lots of oak trees in my yard. Is it okay to mulch my tomato plants with leaves from my oak tree?

A: Yes, actually it is okay. An old myth exists that oak leaves are too acidic for most plants. Acid content is not a major concern with mulches. Remember, mulch is used on top of the soil and pH is measured in the soil. Although oak leaves do contain tannins, the tannins do not affect the growth of the mulched plants. You can also use organic mulch like sawdust, wood chips, compost mulch, straw or newspapers. In some studies tomatoes have shown benefits of improved yields, enhanced ripening, lowered incidence of early blight and improved quality of the fruit with red mulches.

Q: My “hens and chickens” are not growing even though I water them daily.

A: Don’t water Hens and Chickens daily, they prefer dry conditions. In fact, lots of plant problems right now relate to all the rain and moisture we have had.

Q: Should I clip the faded blooms off my climbing rose?

A: Yes, clipping off faded blooms will encourage more blooms. Every time rose blooms are cut off, plants are partially pruned. If plants are new or weak, cut the flower stems short to leave as much foliage on the plant as possible. Even after plants are well established, never cut stems longer than needed. Allow at least two leaves to remain on each stem.

Q: The beans in my garden have rust. What can I use to get rid of it?

A: First, it is best to use resistant pole bean varieties. The grower should consult seed catalogs for current information on resistant varieties. It is also important to destroy residues after harvest. You can control rust by spraying or dusting plants when rust appears and repeat at seven-day intervals. Use chlorothalonil, (Bravo 500, 720 [lima, blackeye and drybeans only] or 90 DG 2-2 1/2 lb./A), wettable sulfur, sulfur dust, Thiolux 3 lb./A, Maneb 80 or Maneb plus Zinc F4 (dry beans only). Do not apply sulfur dust if temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Beef Cattle Can Suffer In Heat Warns Extension Specialist

By David Burton
University Extension

When outdoor temperatures get hot, humans can take some precautions by going indoors, finding air conditioning, locating some shade and perhaps removing clothing.

In contrast, beef cattle do not have as many cooling choices.

“Cattle might be stuck in a pasture with limited or no shade, no pond to cool off in and worst of all, they may still have their long, winter hair coat on. Three inches of hair can put cattle into a heat stress mode in a hurry,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

With the heat index recently surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit as the “feels like” temperature, producers need to be sure they are providing water and cooling options for their cattle but they should also be watching for fescue problems.

Why do cattle hold on to their winter coats? One reason that is fairly obvious is genetics.

A classic example of marked contrast is to compare a purebred Brahman to a Scotch Highland animal. One coat is slick most of the time while the other is bred to withstand a cold, damp climate.

“Even within the breeds of cattle most often seen in this area, there can be vast differences in shedding rate. Nutrition and management can be involved, but a lot of blame is placed on toxins produced by fescue,” said Cole.

Research has shown that the “wild” endophyte fungus is found in 70 percent or more of the fescue pastures in Missouri. The fungus produces an ergot-like toxin, mostly ergovaline, that causes poor blood circulation and a tendency for the cattle to retain haircoats.

In fact, some animals even seem to grow more hair in the warm weather when they have consumed ergovaline from fescue.

“Imagine how uncomfortable you’d be wearing your winter coat with a 105 degree heat index,” said Cole.

Cattle that are darker haired also tend to suffer more when temperatures and humidity rises. Cattle that may have experienced respiratory problems earlier may pant and show serious heat sensitivity. During the late-June Midwestern heat outbreak, several hundred cattle in feedlots in Nebraska and Iowa died.

“There possibly were even cattle here in southwest Missouri that died during that period if they were not given shade and water,” said Cole.

If they didn’t die, they likely gained less during that period and pregnant females may have lost pregnancies. Bull fertility can also be reduced.

“It is vital for cattle owners to provide an abundance of shade, at least 25 to 30 square feet per adult animal. Cattle crowded under a shade may even suffer more if air movement is restricted,” said Cole.

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 Funk in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

May God Bless the United States of America ...

...the Ozarks and the Great State of Missouri, our home ...

,,. my wife's birthplace, Texas ...

... and my birthplace, Georgia ...

3D Animated Flags--By

The Home of the Brave

By Dan Brown,
District 149 State Rep.

Although I am thankful for our freedom year round, the Fourth of July holiday always brings about a magnified sense of devotion to our great country.
On a rainy night during the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key wrote what would later become our national anthem. Key witnessed a Royal Navy ship bombard Fort McHenry in Chesapeake Bay. During the heavy attack, Key noticed that the storm flag at the Fort continued to wave in the wind despite the war surrounding it. The next morning, the storm flag was lowered and flying high above Fort McHenry was the American Flag – then fifteen stars and stripes. Key was inspired by the American victory and wrote what became the “Star Spangled Banner” the very next day.
Through the years, Francis Scott Key has inspired so many of us with his triumphant lyrics, “O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”
In many ways, I think we can relate the bombardment of Fort McHenry to our current economic climate. America is facing a recession, whose severity was unforeseen by all of us. The fact that the economy has regressed this badly was something of a surprise attack. Although we have been sound fiscal planners in the past, no one could have ever imagined things would be this bad.
However, just as America stood triumphant in her battle so many years ago, I know we will hold strong and work our way into a prosperous future. Americans are survivors by nature, and we will pull through this recession. It will take a tremendous amount of work and planning, but that is exactly what we will do and what we accomplished this past session. We worked to create jobs and balance the budget responsibly. What we put on the Governor’s desk was the best and most responsible way to move Missouri forward and the House stands by that budget.
Through our past, we have proven that we are a nation that comes together in time of trouble and lends a hand to those around us. That is exactly what we must do now. We must think ahead, plan ahead and provide a solid future for our children and grandchildren.
We are, and will remain the greatest nation in the world. I will always be proud to be an American and I am reminded of this each day as I serve as your State Representative. You can be assured I will continue working to utilize your tax dollars in the most responsible and effective ways possible.
God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Garden Green Beans Enjoyable Whether They Are Canned, Dried, Pickled or Frozen

By David Burton
University Extension

Southwest Missouri gardeners will soon be enjoying green beans. In fact, some gardeners may have so many green beans that they don’t know what to do with them.
According to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, there are many different ways to preserve green beans so they can be enjoyed during the winter.
“Most people can or freeze their extra green beans. But, you could also pickle or dry your green beans for some interesting off season green bean eating,” said Roberts.
When canning green beans, Roberts says to be sure and use recipes published during or after 1989 since many canning processes changed that year.
Green beans can only be canned safely in a pressure canner. Quarts should be processed at 11 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes. For those with a weighted gauge canner, they are processed for the same amount of time at 10 pounds of pressure.
“An important thing to remember when freezing your green beans is that they must be blanched before you freeze them,” said Roberts.
Blanching stops the enzyme process that makes the beans continue to mature even after they are picked. Green beans should be blanched for three minutes then quick cooled in ice water before being placed in the freezer.
The suitability for drying green beans is listed as being fair to good. They must be blanched for two minutes before they are placed in the dehydrator. For better texture some people freeze the green beans for 30 to 40 minutes after blanching and before placing them in the food dehydrator. Drying time is eight to fourteen hours.
“Another option that many people don’t often think about is pickling your green beans. The recipe is very similar to pickled cucumbers,” said Roberts.
All pickled products must be processed in a boiling water bath canner to assure safety. Because they are processed in a boiling water bath canner for only five minutes, the jars should be sterilized before they are filled.
“With all of these options you can offer your family a great variety of foods from just one type of plant in your garden,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.