Saturday, January 30, 2010

What's sad, frustrating and disappointing to me is this: The candidates who are most like me are never the people elected. Instead, we always get something


Sowers has got the money to take off 28 days and campaign with a gimmick called Boots on the Ground.

Sowers is taking aim at Jo Ann Emerson's spending habits, asking if she used your money.

A candidate with three first names, Lawrence David Bill, invited me to check his website

Robert Parker, who has the same name as one of my favorite mystery novelists, also has a website that puts forth his positions.

Leona Williams making a bluegrass album

Leona Williams, a Missouri-born musician, is planning on releasing a bluegrass album in March.

Here's a quote from The Country Classics website:

“I am working on my very first Bluegrass album.” Williams said from her Missouri home. “We are currently recording it in Branson and I am so excited to have some of my friends join me including Mac Wiseman, The Whites, Barbara Fairchild and Pam Tillis. It is going to be a great project and we are hoping to have it out in March.”

Williams has been inducted into the Country Music Association of Texas Hall of Fame, received the George D. Hay Award and most recently inducted into the Missouri Country Music Hall of Fame. She spends her time between homes in Missouri and Nashville and enjoys touring throughout the country.

Williams is from Vienna, Mo. I'm not sure if that's where she still lives. She's a big talent who never received the audience acclaim she deserved. She's a heckuva songwriter.


We need to ban several actions in Rolla

Just as we force kitchen workers to wash their hands and put their long hair up in nets to keep our food clean, we should also regulate the behavior of diners, forcing them to keep the air clean. This should be done with a ban on all smoking, just as they do in the big cities.

Such a ban has been proposed by a hospital official as reported in the Rolla Daily News: http://www.therolladailynews.com/news/x1643195406/City-Council-hears-smoke-free-presentation

No one wants to smell second-hand smoke. While we're at it, let's also ban some other practices that trouble me, and probably you.

First, I'd like a ban on women's perfume, especially some of that crap old women wear. Whew! Stinks. And it can't be good for your lungs.

Second, armpit odor must be regulated. Some people reek. It may not be harmful to your health, but, dang, it sure makes for a poor dining experience.

Third, belching should be regulated from the smallest babe in arms to the oldest old fart. And speaking of farts, farting in all public places must be made at least a class C felony, for not only is it harmful to whoever walks through your cloud of gaseous odor, it also releases greenhouse gases into the environment which harms not just your immediate surroundings but the entire planet. That little silent but deadly 'pfffft!' coming from your rear is causing the glaciers to melt.

We need regulation, taxation and incarceration to fight these problems.

Will you be a part of the solution or just a continuation of the problem?

Remember, if it saves the life of just one child, it will be worth it.

Join other "citizen scientists" in a national bird count

You can take part in a national bird count and you don't even have to leave your backyard if you don't want to, according to this website: Great Backyard Bird Count.

Here's a news release about the Feb. 12-15 event:

Bird watchers coast to coast are invited to take part in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2010. Participants in the free event will join tens of thousands of volunteers counting birds in their own backyards, local parks or wildlife refuges.

Each checklist submitted by these "citizen scientists" helps researchers at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology,the National Audubon Society , and Bird Studies Canada learn more about how the birds are doing—and how to protect them. Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent's largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.

“Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to get outside with family and friends, have fun, and help birds—all at the same time," said Audubon Education Vice President, Judy Braus. "Even if you can only identify a few species you can provide important information that enables scientists to learn more about how the environment is changing and how that affects our conservation priorities.”

Anyone can take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count, from novice bird watchers to experts. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes (or as long as they wish) on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online at www.birdcount.org. One 2009 participant said, “Thank you for the opportunity to participate in citizen science. I have had my eyes opened to a whole new interest and I love it!”

“The GBBC is a perfect first step towards the sort of intensive monitoring needed to discover how birds are responding to environmental change,” said Janis Dickinson, the director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab. “Winter is such a vulnerable period for birds, so winter bird distributions are likely to be very sensitive to change. There is only one way—citizen science—to gather data on private lands where people live and GBBC has been doing this across the continent for many years. GBBC has enormous potential both as an early warning system and in capturing and engaging people in more intensive sampling of birds across the landscape.”

Bird populations are always shifting and changing. For example, 2009 GBBC data highlighted a huge southern invasion of Pine Siskins across much of the eastern United States. Participants counted 279,469 Pine Siskins on 18,528 checklists, as compared to the previous high of 38,977 birds on 4,069 checklists in 2005. Failure of seed crops farther north caused the siskins to move south to find their favorite food.

On the www.birdcount.org website, participants can explore real-time maps and charts that show what others are reporting during the count. The site has tips to help identify birds and special materials for educators. Participants may also enter the GBBC photo contest by uploading images taken during the count. Many images will be featured in the GBBC website’s photo gallery. All participants are entered in a drawing for prizes that include bird feeders, binoculars, books, CDs, and many other great birding products.

In 2010, Bird Studies Canada (BSC) joins the GBBC as the program's Canadian partner. "Bird Studies Canada is delighted to be the Canadian partner for this extremely valuable program," said George Finney, President of BSC. "Participating in the GBBC is an excellent way for Canadians to reconnect with their love of nature and birds."

For more information about the GBBC, visit the website at www.birdcount.org. Or contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473, gbbc@cornell.edu, or Audubon at (202) 861-2242 ext 3050, citizenscience@audubon.org. In Canada, participants may contact Bird Studies Canada at 1- (888)- 448-2473 ext. 134 or gbbc@birdscanada.org.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is made possible, in part, by generous support from Wild Birds Unlimited.


In related news, Ozark Rivers Audubon chapter will conduct a Winter Bird Survey and Chili Potluck lunch at White River Trace at 8 a.m. The chapter announces: "Mike Doyen and Salem bird artist David Plank will lead this super outing. We'll do a winter bird survey across the White River Trace. David Plank was birding and painting in the trace before it was a Conservation Area. Over a chili and potluck lunch, David will tell us about the history of the place when Bachman's sparrow was in residence. This will be a good opportunity for beginning birders to get good long looks at winter birds and hone their identification skills. For more information, call Mike at 341-0200 or mdoyen@yahoo.com."

The Ozark Rivers chapter meets at 7 p.m. every second Thursday of each month, September thru May, at the EUGENE E. NORTHERN COMMUNITY BUILDING, Rolla, MO. Occasionally, the meeting will be held elsewhere - these will be announced in the media and on our website calendar. There are no meetings in the months of June, July, and August.

For the Feb. 11 meeting, Dan Woodward will present a program on his "Little Foxes." Woodward, well-known Missouri artist, presents "pictures of a fox family that visits the back porch of his Phelps County home to eat gooseberry pie and perform other feats of audacity," according to an announcement.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Are superweeds headed for your garden?

How do you like pulling weeds? Probably don't. How would you like to have your yard and garden infested with something called "superweeds."
Superweeds are said to result when food crops are genetically modified and there's some cross-pollination with other plants.
These superweeds are reported to be plaguing fields were Monsanto's genetically modified crops have been planted.
Not everyone believes it. There are many who deny that GM foods are causing superweeds.
I'm not a plant scientist, so I don't know what to think. I've always been science screwing around with the genetic code of living creatures. Can't be good.
Click on the linked words and phrases above and read up on this topic and then let me know what you think.

Money from outside the 8th District

Both Jo Ann Emerson, Republican incumbent in the Missouri 8th District, and Tommy Sowers, her leading Democrat challenger, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it from outside the district. I'm not sure if either of them know who they are supposed to represent.

Don't believe me, though. Go to the Federal Elections Commission and take a look. Here, I'll help you find the information:

Search page

Tommy Sowers

Jo Ann Emerson

There's an independent and another Democrat running as well as Republican Bob Parker, who hasn't raised much money but what he has raised comes from Missouri. Without money, he probably hasn't a chance, but after checking Parker's website, I have to say that I'll probably vote for him in the primary.

Mrs. Emerson is as guilty as a Democrat about voting for excessive spending. She made me so mad last election that I voted for a third-party candidate in the general election, first time in my life I had ever done that. If the race is between her and young Tommy, I'll probably do it again.

Cold and snowy day

Sixteen degrees at 11 a.m. with snow on the ground. Schools all around us have been canceled.

An inch (or less) accumulation but it's still snowing.

Those of you wishing for spring should remember what I told you: We've got February and March to get through yet.

I was off work all week and had things I wanted to get done outside, but the weather hasn't been good for outside work. Garden fever vs. winter chill, by Jim Hamiton, senior writer for Neighbor Newspapers, says what I feel, so I'm not going to try to repeat it. Just go read Hamilton's essay.

This is also a day in Southern Missouri when you should make sure your birdfeeders are full of seed or suet. Don't forget to fill the feeding sock with thistle seed for the Goldfinches.

MODOT loves the European way

Someone in the Missouri Department of Transportation must have taken a trip to Europe and decided the Show-Me State needed to be a little more Contintenal. A few years back, the damnable rotaries or roundabouts started springing up in the state; we've even got one of the devilish things in Rolla.

Now, we're getting something else, the "diverging diamond."

The USA Today rag had this to say:

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The right way to make a left turn just might be to briefly drive on the opposite side of the road.

After years of traffic backups and accidents involving motorists trying to turn left at a popular intersection here, state transportation officials think they have found the solution in a new kind of highway interchange called the "diverging diamond" that is now getting serious looks from several other states.

Missouri unveiled the nation's first such interchange last June at the intersection of Missouri 13 and Interstate 44. It is designed to move traffic more efficiently by giving left-turning cars uninterrupted, or "free" access to the highway through their own ramps by channeling traffic, temporarily, to the opposite side of the road, said Don Saiko of the Missouri Department of Transportation.

Did you catch that? It makes you drive on the wrong side of the road temporarily. Wonderful idea. Just brilliant. Won't lead to accidents. Oh, no. Of course not.

Flexible Spending Accounts help cut taxable income

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

Flexible Spending Accounts are a powerful financial tool that can help reduce taxable income according to Annette FitzGerald, a family financial education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“Flexible Spending Accounts are available through most employers and now is a good time to review your financial records and prepare for tax savings,” said FitzGerald.

A Flexible Spending Account is a program that offers tax advantages and allows employees to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses with pre-tax dollars.

“If you choose to participate in FSA, the amount you choose to contribute on an annual basis is withdrawn from your paycheck in equal installments each pay period,” said FitzGerald.

Most employer plans offer two different flexible spending accounts: one for qualified medical/dental expenses, and one for dependent care expenses.

”It is important to give some thought to determining how much money you plan to contribute, because if you don't use the money you will lose it,” said FitzGerald.

For example, if you have $100/month contributed to the FSA ($1200 for the year) and you submitted $1,000 allowable expenses, you will lose the unused $200.

According to FitzGerald, it is important to check in advance with your employer to ensure your desired expenses for medical and dental expenses will be covered and plan to use all the funds contributed to the Flexible Spending Account by year end.

Many employer FSAs now provide debit cards which allow for an electronic transfer of pre-tax dollars from an employee account to pay for qualified expenses. Employees can use their medical and dependent care funds by using their card at the point of service.

“The traditional paper process is eliminated with these cards, as are worries of lost receipts or expenses you'd otherwise forget,” said FitzGerald.

For more information on issues related to home finances, contact either of the MU Extension family financial education specialists in southwest Missouri: Annette FitzGerald, (417) 546-4431 or Janet Lafon, (417) 358-2158.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

8th District response to the SOTU speech

Jo Ann Emerson, Eighth District representative in the House of Representatives, says a freeze on spending is only part of the country's economic solution.

"Federal spending is out of control, but you can’t cut our national debt by paying lip service to it. A freeze on some spending is a step in the right direction, but that alone will not cut deficits and reduce the debt," Emerson said. "This administration has been on a big-government binge, and they have more than doubled the deficit to a record $1.35 trillion. Some programs have doubled in size in just one year, and freezing spending at all-time highs is not going to solve the problem."

As of the delivery of the State of the Union, the national debt stood at $12.3 trillion. Emerson noted she has voted against an $800 billion stimulus, and $800 billion cap-and-trade energy tax, a $1.2 trillion health care reform bill, a $500 billion spending package and five budget proposals in the space of the last year.

"The problem is spending, plain and simple. This is not penny-ante stuff – these are high stakes spending decisions bureaucrats and congressional leaders are making with taxpayer dollars," Emerson said.

I found her response at this Perryville newspaper link. Go there to read the whole essay.

I couldn't find anything on the web from Tommy Sowers, the Democrat who wants to challenge her, responding to, analyzing or, more likely, praising President Obama's State of the Union Address. Here's his website link; see if you can find anything. Maybe he'll put something up after his people read this.

What I found instead was something called Boots on the Ground, a YouTube daily record of a trip he's taking around the Eighth District. Interesting.

What Obama said and what I think he meant

1. What he said: "And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town -- a supermajority -- then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well."
And what I think he meant: "Well, crap, I thought we could just keep on ignoring you conservatives and Republicans but I guess not now. So I guess we'll have to share some of the decision-making responsibility with you."

2. What he said: "Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership."
And what I think he meant: "Shut up you damn Republicans and do what we say. Quit disagreeing with me. Quit pointing out my errors in thinking and philosophy."

3. What he said: "We still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills."
And what I think he meant: "Screw'em. We're going to do what we want to do."


Here's the full text of what he said: State of the Union.

For balance, here's the GOP side of the issues: Republican Address to the Nation.

Keep your flue clean during wood-burning season

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

Heating with wood brings added responsibilities for homeowners, according to Bob Schultheis, a natural resource engineering specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

"Homeowners should check their chimney for damage and flue for creosote buildup before the heating season, and at least twice a month during the heating season. A buildup of creosote in the flue increases the possibility of a chimney fire," said Schultheis.

Before deciding to check or clean your chimney yourself, consider your physical condition. Climbing on steep roofs can be hazardous, and cleaning a chimney can be strenuous work. Make sure you are up to the job before starting. If not, hire a professional chimney cleaning service.

First, inspect the cap and masonry on the top of the chimney. If the cap is missing or cracked, or the joints between the bricks are crumbling, you will need to replace the mortar.

Next, shine a light down the flue from its top and check for missing masonry or cracked flue tiles. To check for creosote buildup in the flue, hang the light at the top and then look up the flue from below with a mirror to estimate the buildup.

With a stove, open the clean-out and place a light inside so it can be seen from the top of the chimney. If you do not have a clean-out, remove the stovepipe and place the light in the stovepipe entry into the chimney.

It is time to clean the flue if a one-eighth inch accumulation or more of loose soot or shiny, glazed deposits exist.

Wire and plastic cleaning brushes are available to fit square, rectangular or round chimneys. They are sold by wood stove distributors, at some hardware stores, and through online retailers.

“Wet or unseasoned wood, incomplete combustion, and cool surfaces are the three main causes of creosote buildup,” said Schultheis. “When wood is burning slowly, creosote collects in the relatively cool chimney flue. You must keep the flue temperature above 250 degree F. to prevent creosote formation.”

According to Schultheis, two good ways to reduce creosote buildup are to always use well-seasoned, dry wood, and always allow a small quantity of dry wood to burn hot for at least 30 minutes every time a fire is started.

“A small, hot fire will burn off much of the creosote from the previous use,” said Schultheis.

More information on wood heating safety is available in the following MU Extension guide sheets: G1730 “Wood Stoves and Their Installation,” G1731 “Wood Stove Maintenance and Operation,” G1732 “Chimneys for Wood Stoves,” G1735 “Cleaning Stovepipes and Chimneys,” G5450 “Wood Fuel for Heating,” G5451 “Preparing Wood for Your Wood Stove,” G5452 “How to Buy and Sell Cordwood,” and G5453 “Starting a Fire in a Wood Stove.”

These guides are available from the nearest county extension center, or free online at extension.missouri.edu.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Concerns of Missouri’s Budget

By Rep. Dan Brown
Missouri District 149

Most legislative sessions in Missouri’s General Assembly begin in earnest and end in a fury, but this year will require hard work all of the way through.

The biggest debates this year will most likely revolve around jobs, the economy, and funding. Missouri, like most of the states, is facing serious budget woes as the year begins. It will take every member of the General Assembly and the Governor working together to find ways to fund our most vital programs and departments without placing more of a tax burden on our families, workers, and small businesses. The people in the 149th District have had to cut back and tighten their belts in this economy and I feel wholeheartedly that the State of Missouri must do the same. It is vital that we live within our means and don’t rely on borrowed money. The Governor should have second thoughts about saying, “If there’s debt, Missouri kids and grandkids will pay that debt off”. This is a very troubling statement and I feel that this burden should not be passed onto our next generation.

I feel the best way to find our way out of the fiscal wilderness is to do everything we can to promote job growth. In the last year, nearly 62,000 Missourians have seen their jobs disappear, which equals almost 170 Missourians losing their job every day. Our unemployment rate has grown to 9.6 percent, which is it’s highest in a quarter of a century. This must stop and stop now. That is why my primary concern and legislative priority is jump-starting Missouri’s lagging economy. We must get government out of the way and make Missouri attractive to businesses and investments of all sizes, whether a firm employs five people or five hundred.

One of the best ways to expand business opportunities in our area is to make sure our rural businesses have access to high speed internet. I will work with my colleagues here in Jefferson City as well as our federal officials in Washington to see this happen.

Despite our budget troubles, we must keep our promises to our teachers and students by giving them every dollar they deserve. I thank the Governor for his commitment to the Career Ladder system that rewards our teachers for going above and beyond the call for our students. This vital program is so very important to our rural school districts and must be kept in tact. However, I do take exception to some very severe cuts in the Governor’s proposed budget that would cut many other programs in both our K-12 and higher education system. The Governor’s current proposal underfunds our schools by almost $88 million, which will force local schools to cut programs or raise local taxes. Among these are cuts in Parents as Teachers and the near disappearance of our online education programs that have had great success with educating students. I plan to work tirelessly with representatives from both sides of the aisle to make sure we give our students the tools to succeed and provide our teachers with the resources to inspire greatness.

Rolla’s own Missouri University of Science and Technology is a tremendous part of our district. Missouri S&T not only gives students from all over the globe a world-class education, but it is a vital economic development tool for Rolla and the surrounding area. I will fight day and night to make sure that Missouri S&T gets their piece of the college funding pie.

My final issue in this report, although it is not the last facing the district, is our transportation system. We are fortunate in the 149th District to be serviced by Interstate 44 and Highway 63. But this system is not without serious shortcomings. Highway 63 between Rolla and Westphalia is the most dangerous stretch of highway in Missouri. This is unacceptable. Not only are we losing far too many Missourians to fatalities on this part of the corridor, but its shortcomings are holding the economic progress of the 149th back. A straighter four-lane highway would open up commerce from Iowa to Arkansas and allow all of the 149th and all of central Missouri, to experience economic growth. The added accessibility would make places like Missouri S&T even more attractive, bringing in even more eager minds, more innovation, and faster growth. Seeing this project come to fruition is a top goal of mine.

My guiding principle since coming to Jefferson City to represent you just over a year ago is unchanged: to put the taxpayers first. I am proud to call the 149th District of the Missouri House home and promise to act in good faith for the good people I represent. Although our State faces challenges and uncertainty, Missourians are hardworking people, and together we will face this challenge head on. With hard work, common sense values, and a commitment to those we serve; we can make Missouri a better place for the generations to come.

Politicians are the biggest scam artists in the world

Here's an essay by a journalist named Charley Reese that is full of truth. You should read it and pass it on to others. I already checked Snopes.com for its veracity and, yes, Reese really was a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel for about 30 years and he really did write this piece of truth.

I love his first paragraph in which he points out how politicians are the biggest scam artists in the world. The piece just gets better as it goes on. Read, get mad, pass it along.

545 people
By Charley Reese

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don't propose a federal budget. The president does.

You and I don't have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don't write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don't set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don't control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don't care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator's responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits..... The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? Nancy Pelosi. She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted -- by present facts -- of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can't think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it's because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it's because they want it in the red ...

If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ , it's because they want them in IRAQ

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it's because they want it that way..

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like "the economy," "inflation," or "politics" that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses.

Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees...

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charley Reese is a former columnist of the Orlando Sentinel Newspaper.

More websites for your consideration

Here you go: five websites and a bonus, all of them just full of Ozarks and Missouri information.


Cuba MO Murals is about more than just the murals on the businesses.

River Hills Traveler is a guide to the outdoors in southeast Missouri.

NeighborNews.com is the homepage for a chain of hometown weeklies in southwest Missouri with lively and informative writing.

The Wilders
are Kansas City slickers with a love of rural music and a claim that their sound is rooted in the Ozarks. I won't dispute that.

The Ozark Folk Center
in Mountain View, Ark., is a wealth of information, folklore, music and hill country culture.

Here's a bonus. Read it and weep:

Text of Gov. Jay Nixon's State of the State speech from the Associate Press and on the Columbia Missourian website.

Stay alert to stay unhurt around cattle

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

In recent years, a number of local cattle handlers have been attacked by a cow or bull according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Although the majority of the attacks did not result in fatalities, there have been many bruises, broken bones and crushed egos.

“Most of the victims have been experienced cattle producers, veterinarians, agriculture educators and even extension specialists,” said Cole. “I imagine they’re wiser and more cautious as a result of the attack.”

Statistics support the fact that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations.

DANGEROUS JOB

According to Amanda Marney, agriculture preparedness specialist, University of Missouri Extension, national data shows livestock, machinery and falls as the dominant sources of occupational injury on farms.

“In fact, some studies show that up to one-third of injuries on the farm are associated with livestock,” said Marney. “While many cattle are placid, they weigh over six times the weight of a man and can crush bones with a single kick, step or charge.”

It is important that all livestock owners recognize the different behavior factors when working around livestock.

“While there were no fatalities that have been recently reported to extension centers here in southwest Missouri, this is not the case for our state and region,” said Marney.

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study that documented farm worker fatalities in Missouri, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. There were 21 cattle-related deaths in these four states from 2003 to 2008. Of these deaths, 13 involved attacks by individual bulls, six involved attacks by individual cows and five involved multiple cattle.

DOCILE ANIMALS

According to Cole, the attacks reported to him have resulted from animals that had never acted aggressive toward their owners before.

“Some may even have been show animals that were broke to load or otherwise were very docile,” said Cole.

Victims usually can recall that on the day of the attack some unusual circumstances could have caused the animal to blow up, according to Cole.

“Cows are more prone to do this if you’re doing something to their newborn calf and you get between the cow and her baby. Dogs may irritate her and she could take out her frustrations on the nearest intruder which could be the owner,” said Cole.

Bulls tend to become aggressive around cows that are in heat or when other bulls invade their spaces.

“Don’t assume that an animal that’s halter broken or that you’ve petted out in the pasture won’t have a bad day and their hormones take over. When this occurs, bulls or cows can surprise you at how fast they move,” said Cole. “Your big beef or dairy bull may not be as fast but they will be quicker than you expect.”

TIPS TO AVOID INJURY

Cole says there are several tips that can be followed to help avoid injuries from cows or bulls.

“For starters, always be careful around livestock and have an escape route planned such as going under or over a fence or through a man pass,” said Cole.

It is also a good idea to carry some device that offers some protection in case of attack. Even though dogs can provoke an animal they can also sometimes help the owner escape.

Nose rings in bulls can help control cattle in some situations.

“Remember, you’re not getting any younger, and may not move as quickly as you once did,” said Cole. “It is also a good idea to have another person with you when working with newborns or moving bulls.”

Cole also says it is important to cull animals that act aggressive. “Temperament or docility is a heritable trait and if you fear some animals in your herd are inheritantly mean, pay more attention to that trait when you select replacements. A few breed associations even have docility EPDs,” said Cole.

Another recommendation is to not be in a hurry and end up being careless. “Easy-does-it” is a good policy around livestock.

“You also need to keep fences and gates in good repair and sturdy enough to protect you and your help,” said Cole.

MORE INFORMATION

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.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is Tommy Sowers running for King of the Eighth District?

If you haven't read the Southeast Missourian's interview with young Tommy Sowers, you should. Here are some excerpts:

Tommy Sowers, the Iraq war veteran mounting the first well-funded challenge to U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson in more than a decade said Saturday that he plans to make the economy -- and Emerson's record on economic issues -- the centerpiece of his campaign....

Sowers spoke as the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House was pressing members to a vote on a health care overhaul bill that sets a goal of providing health insurance coverage to 96 percent of the eligible population. Emerson announced Friday evening she planned to vote against the bill. Sowers said he would vote for it....

Emerson has been an advocate of drug reimportation from Canada and direct negotiations between Medicare and drug companies over prescription prices.

When asked about those two issues, Sowers said he doesn't disagree with Emerson. But he said voters should look at the results she is achieving. He said Emerson hasn't heard the concerns of constituents.

"I am much more of a results-oriented kind of guy," he said. "Look at the district. See what has happened since she has been in office. It happens in every district in every state -- the member blames somebody else for the problems. I will set an accountability mark for jobs and economic opportunity and ask voters to hold me accountable in November 2012."

What I get from reading this are the rantings of another liberal who wants government to do more of what the free enterprise system is supposed to do and will do if it is allowed to do so by government. Government doesn't create jobs and economic opportunity; business does. If young Tommy had ever worked in a business he would know that.

Young Tommy also seems to believe he will have a tremendous amount of power if he is elected. He pledges to set economic goals (presumably high goals for he is a "results-oriented kind of guy") and if he doesn't achieve them for us, he won't blame anyone but himself and he'll ask the voters to hold him accountable.

He seems to think he's going to be the King of the Eighth District.

Has Obama been staying up late writing letters?

Someone has been sending letters to editors supporting Obama and using the name Ellie Light along with false addresses. So far, the count is 68 newspapers. I think Obama has been staying up late writing them in secret.


Share your family history with grandchildren

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

There are several ways people can give the gift of history to their families. Perhaps the most fun method is for grandparents to work with their grandchildren on family history scrapbooks.

“Grandparents are in a unique position to make family history come alive,” said David Burton, civic communication specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

Burton says grandparents can connect grandchildren with their family history in many easy ways, like collecting and sharing family records and photos, handing down favorite recipes, visiting places of family significance and joining in family reunions.

“For their grandchildren, grandparents can be the link between the past and the future,” said Burton. “I know my own son marvels at the fact that his great-grandmother grew up without a car or a telephone. He has learned that from talking with her and then that provides a connection to all of the family photos we have displayed in our home.”

Burton says there are several easy ways to begin sharing the family history with grandchildren. All of the methods begin with gathering and preserving family information like photos, letters, medals, official documents, recipes and heirlooms.

“One fun method is to put all of these documents into a family scrapbook. Grandchildren can help and they can learn through the process,” said Burton.

Videotaping family members telling stories, developing a catalog of family heirlooms with stories surrounding them, making a family cookbook or putting together a family photo album are also activities grandchildren can help do.

“Children learn best by doing so the key is to involve them in the work. One thing I am doing is gathering family mementos and pictures into scrapbooks and displays throughout our house so my children can give family and friends tours of our own family museum,” 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 same questions can be used by an interviewer trying to record another person’s history. The booklet is available for free online at http://extension.missouri.edu/swregion/news/.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Obama, liberals find pickup truck drivers amusing

I don't pay much attention to Obama's numerous speeches, proclamations and bold declarations, so I missed this condescending remark aimed at a pickup truck driver who "drove his truck around the Commonwealth" of Massachusetts during his campaign. As you'll hear, the crowd was amused at it.


He didn't say anything derogatory about pickup truck drivers during his visit to Rolla, at least not that I know of. Lots of pickup truck drivers around here, and that might have ticked them off.

Will space heaters really save money on your heating bill?

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

When winter weather begins and temperatures drop, many people start looking for ways to shave a few dollars off their heating costs.

According to Bob Schultheis, a natural resource engineering specialist with University of Missouri Extension, anyone planning to buy a space heater should carefully examine the claims manufacturers make about their products.

Portable box-style infrared electric heaters are being promoted heavily in stores, magazines and on television. Schultheis offers his analysis of some of the manufacturers’ claims about these heaters and heating systems.

Claim: Space heaters can slash heating bills up to 50 percent.

Reality: This is possible under certain conditions. “If you turn the thermostat in your house down and only use the space heater to heat the room you are in, you can lower your heating costs drastically. By turning the thermostat down by 20 degrees when outside temperatures are above freezing, you can reduce heating costs by up to 50 percent,” said Schultheis.

There are problems when a user moves to a different room. It is hard to take a space heater from room to room and keep all the occupants in the home in the same room. “You need to be careful how much you turn down the heat to the rest of the home. The result can be frozen pipes or excessive condensation forming on walls and ceilings, which could easily negate any energy savings,” said Schultheis.

Claim: Heat up to 1,000 square feet for pennies a day.

Reality: A well-insulated, 1,500 square foot home will require at least a 70,000 BTU per hour heating system to heat the whole house. These infrared heaters typically operate on 110 volts and use 1,585 watts of power at maximum output. One watt is equal to 3.413 BTUs per hour, so 1585 watts is equal to 5410 BTUs per hour. One infrared heater, therefore, will heat roughly one-thirteenth of the home.

If electricity costs $.08 per kilowatt-hour and the heater runs six hours per day, it will cost (1.585 x $0.08 x 6) or 76 cents per day. A geothermal heat pump could heat the whole house for that amount of money. From a safety standpoint, a 1,585-watt heater will draw over 14 amps of current, and so it needs to be on a separate electrical circuit from other loads.

Claim: A space heater doesn’t remove oxygen or humidity from the air and is 100 percent efficient.

Reality: “This is true. But, in fact, no electric or sealed combustion-heating system removes humidity from the air. Oxygen levels also are not affected by any electric or vented combustion heating source. All electric space heaters, whether they cost $40 or $400, are 100 percent efficient,” said Schultheis.

Claim: Provides even heat wall to wall and floor to ceiling.

Reality: Any convective heat source would do this naturally by convection currents or by using a fan. According to Schultheis, most space heaters are on the floor, so they heat the molecules closest to the floor first. These molecules rise in the normal convective process because this air now is less dense. It replaces the colder, denser molecules near the ceiling and eventually the room is heated evenly. This is not unique to any particular type of heater.

Claim: Does not emit poisonous carbon monoxide or harmful radiation.

Reality: Electric space heaters of any type do not emit carbon monoxide or other pollutants into the house. Unvented combustion space heaters do emit numerous dangerous pollutants and should not be used in confined spaces.

“While the advertising claims made for these infrared heaters are mostly true, they make the system seem like a revolutionary advancement in home heating. You can get similar benefits from a good quality space heater for much less than $300-$400,” said Schultheis.

“You’re not actually saving any money until you have recaptured the money you spent for the heater,” said Schultheis. “If they have the same wattage, a $40 heater pays back a lot quicker than a $400 heater, and they’re both putting out the same amount of heat.”

For more information on energy conservation, visit the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu/webster, or contact Schultheis at the Webster County Extension Center in Marshfield at (417) 859-2044.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Retiring Conservation Dept. director: Keep Missourians connected to land


By Jim Low
Missouri Department of Conservation

JEFFERSON CITY–Retiring Conservation Department Director John Hoskins says he has occasionally lost sleep during the past seven years, but he says the rewards of the job outweighed the worries. He says conservation succeeds when people understand nature and have fun outdoors.

EARLY YEARS

Hoskins became Missouri’s seventh Conservation Department director in July 2002. He was the first conservation agent to rise through the ranks to the agency’s top job.

Hoskins traces his passion for the natural world to his childhood on a small family farm in the Ozarks. His first exposure to the Conservation Department was having a friend whose father operated a fire tower for the agency.

The future director was not thinking of a conservation career when he enrolled as a business major at Southeast Missouri State University, but it took him only a year to decide he wanted to study something that was more important to him personally. He also wanted a job that would enable him to stay connected to his beloved Ozarks. In the fall of his sophomore year, he changed his major to biology.

“I realized I was more interested in ecological studies than accounting,” says Hoskins. “So I pursued a degree to be a science teacher with a minor in social science, because I was also interested in government and history. Years later, those classes in business, biology and social science all fit together.”

He taught science in the Charleston and Ellington schools for two years before learning that the Conservation Department was taking applications for a class of 20 new conservation agent trainees. His application was one of four from Ozarks natives that rose to the top of a huge stack.

INTO THE PRESSURE COOKER

Over the next 20 years, Hoskins moved up to positions as Protection Division regional supervisor, General Services section chief and Protection Division chief. When he succeeded Jerry Conley as director, he stepped into a pressure cooker.

“There was no honeymoon,” he recalls. “I came to work one morning soon after I became director and found a TV camera set up in the courtyard with a reporter waiting to interview me about a scathing report from the state auditor. I felt like a deer in the headlights, but we didn’t hide from the issues. I got out from behind the desk and gave live interviews around the state. That was a rather stressful introduction to the director’s job.”

Hoskins became director at a challenging moment in the Conservation Department’s history. Revenues failed to keep up with inflation for the first time since Missourians established the one-eighth of 1 percent conservation sales tax. The tax had enabled the agency to establish nongame wildlife management programs, buy land for public recreation and expand services such as education, nature centers and aid to farmers and other private landowners.

“When I came on in 2002, critics were essentially saying we had achieved what we told the people we would do, so we didn’t need the sales tax anymore,” Hoskins recalls. “There was little recognition that the challenges facing Missouri’s wild resources were as great as ever.

“I guess I was a little na├»ve. I felt like our mission and our values served the public in wonderful ways, and I was taken aback by the level of animosity that some people expressed toward conservation.”

Hoskins’ first big challenge was defending the sales tax and other hard-won conservation gains. Doing that meant shoring up public support for the agency’s mission.

“We decided to communicate directly and personally with the public. I did more than 50 town-hall meetings in my first three years as director. We advertised the meetings ahead of time, took senior staff members along and tried to get people to come out and talk to us. We wanted folks to know that those who ran the department were real people with genuine intentions who would listen to them.”

Most of those meetings were very friendly, but Hoskins also met people who clearly did not like some things the Conservation Department was doing.

“It was very candid and very challenging, and I had to get over my stage fright about being in front of people. I didn’t get to just read speeches. I had to respond to what people were saying.”

In 2004, the department changed public meetings to focus on specific issues, such as deer, turkey, waterfowl, trout and catfish management.

“We held something like 30 deer meetings alone, and where I might have drawn as many as 80 people to some of the director’s forums, we would have big meeting rooms jammed with hundreds of people for the deer meetings. I think we proved to a lot of people that we wanted their input.”

Hoskins says these meetings were excellent examples of an approach to conservation that is “fundamentally citizen focused and led.”

“This is not government as usual. For those who want to condemn government and say it’s too cumbersome, or it’s not responsive – none of that fits our Conservation Department. The people of Missouri set up a constitutional framework for this agency so it is managed by four citizens (Commissioners) who serve without compensation. Through the years, that has made an enormous difference in how our staff works with the public.”

DOING MORE WITH LESS

Intensive, continuing contact with citizens ensured that the Conservation Department’s mission stayed in touch with Missourians’ desires. But things were not easy, even with strong citizen support. The state’s economy was struggling to recover from a dip in 2001, and this meant diminished revenues for all state agencies, including the Conservation Department. Hoskins says he was fortunate to work for conservation commissioners whose experience and vision suited them well to address these challenges.

“When I became director, there were people on the commission who definitely were the right people for the time. I remember guidance from Howard Wood, Stephen Bradford, Anita Gorman and Cynthia Metcalfe as I began the job. They said, essentially, that we were on a precipice, and we had to improve our financial management very quickly. Together, we took a conservative approach, and it has served us well. We focused more on taking care of what we had and less on expanding infrastructure.”

Hoskins says the Conservation Commission followed through on commitments it had made to build nature centers and other facilities, but the approach to these commitments changed. Challenge grants encouraged local partners to share the cost of new facilities, strengthening community support for the projects. Innovative funding partnerships stretched scarce Conservation Department funds, allowing the agency to accomplish much more than otherwise would have been possible.

“We did participate, but we didn’t dominate, and that is likely the pattern for the future. We focused more on trying to direct our resources to better manage public land, take care of existing facilities, and offer good conservation services. The public expects us to have a high-quality program.”

Much of the work necessary to ensure quality services in an economic downturn was neither glamorous nor pleasant. Hoskins reduced the number of administrative units in the agency and changed its structure for greater economy and efficiency.

“Those changes were difficult. I was keenly aware that they affected people’s lives, and I didn’t take those things lightly. But I had to do them because I felt like they were the best thing for conservation. As I prepared to leave the job, I found myself doing it again, reducing the workforce and closing offices that didn’t provide Missourians the highest value for their conservation dollars.”

THE BEST OFFENSE

Hoskins says he and the Conservation Commissioners have always agreed their most important responsibility was defending Missouri’s unique system of conservation governance. Missouri citizens set up the system in 1936 through the initiative petition process. Their goal was removing conservation policy from the political arena.

To achieve this, they established a balanced, bipartisan commission of four citizens appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. The commission has exclusive authority to manage Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife for the public good. Professional, science-based management over the past 73 years has prevented hunting and fishing regulations and resource management from becoming political footballs as sometimes happens elsewhere.

“Having a sales tax for conservation comes with a heavy burden of responsibility to prove ourselves worthy of dedicated funding. I believe today, even in the environment we are in, with the economy and the problems we have in our country and our state, Missourians remain very supportive of the conservation mission. That gives me a lot of satisfaction.”

Hoskins says Conservation Department Director-Designate Bob Ziehmer has been a key player in maintaining support for the agency’s independence and funding. He counts Ziehmer among the many citizen and professional conservationists who have been in the right place at the right time. “I have confidence that Bob Ziehmer will meet tomorrow’s challenges and move conservation forward in the years to come.”

LOOKING BACK, LOOKING FORWARD

Hoskins says one of the greatest rewards of the past seven and a half years has been working with the Conservation Department’s professional staff.

“From the time I went to work as a conservation agent to my time in the director’s office, it has been a privilege to work with such a great group of people and be part of the culture of excellence that exists here. I was working on something that was important to me personally and to those around me, and I was proud of it. Our mission satisfies a need that is very important to Missourians. It is hard to find a job with that combination anywhere else.”

Asked what advice he has for those who will carry on the work of conservation after he retires, Hoskins cited the importance of staying connected to Missouri citizens and keeping Missourians connected to the land.

“Conservation will only succeed if Missourians understand what the department is doing and feel they have a personal stake in the outdoors. People defend the natural world when they understand it and are engaged with it. That means you have to get people outdoors, whether it’s hunting wild turkeys, catching bluegills, visiting a nature center or doing nature photography. One of the most critical jobs is making sure Missourians have opportunities to connect personally with nature and have fun outdoors.

“We each have a role in fostering a love of nature in the hearts of the next generation. We should all try to leave the earth a little better and brighter for our having been here, and sharing nature with others is a great way to do that.”

Friday, January 22, 2010

Your fruit trees need attention during the winter

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

Curling up with new nursery catalogs, sipping cider and enjoying strawberry jam on warm muffins can be a fun way to spend a cold winter afternoon.

That is especially the case for avid home gardeners who grow fruit products.

“These delicious fruit products remind me that there are winter chores to be done in the home fruit planting during the winter that can help you shake off cabin fever,” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

DORMANT PRUNING

An important winter chore in the home fruit planting is dormant season pruning according to Byers.

Apples, pears, and grapes may be pruned before January 1, but wait until February to prune stone fruits. Fall bearing raspberries may be mowed in late February. Other brambles and gooseberries may be pruned after the first of the year.

Specific information on pruning can be found in MU Extension guides available at the nearest MU Extension center or online at extension.missouri.edu.

MAINTAIN STRUCTURES

“Winter and early spring are also good times to repair and maintain the various structures associated with home fruit production,” said Byers.

For example, rotted or broken trellis posts should be replaced. Repair and tighten sagging or broken wires. Damaged stakes should be replaced. Repaint signs and other wooden structures such as arbors, gazebos, tables, and seats. Cold frames should be made ready for the spring. Check the sides of planters or raised beds for signs of damage.

FERTILIZER AND MULCH

Organic fertilizers should be applied in fall or early winter to allow for decomposition before spring.

“Organic matter tends to tie up nitrogen as it breaks down, leading to temporary nutritional problems. This problem can be avoided if sufficient time is allowed for the material to break down before plants start growth in the spring,” said Byers.

Mulches for winter protection of strawberries should be applied after the soil is cold, usually after Dec. 1. Be sure to replace any mulch that the wind has removed from strawberry beds.

PEST CONTROL

“Rodents can feed on fruit plants in the winter and cause extensive damage or plant death. Plastic, wire, or paper protectors may be placed on the trunks of young trees,” said Byers.

A general cleanup of brush, weeds, and debris will make the planting less attractive to rodents.

Do not place mulches, which provide cover for pests, close to trunks or stems. Cats, traps, and baits are other ways of reducing rodent damage.

For pest control, Byers says to remove the egg cases of tent caterpillars during pruning. Prune out and destroy any diseased or dead plant parts such as cankers, fireblight strikes, and fruit mummies.

Dormant season pesticide applications are an important part of pest management.

Dormant oil sprays are effective controls for mites, scales, and other insects. Dormant season fungicides are important in controlling several fruit diseases. Be sure to follow all label directions.

For more information, consult the "Home Fruit Spray Schedules" available from MU Extension.

For more information on home fruit production, contact MU Extension Horticulture Specialist Patrick Byers at the Greene County Extension Center in Springfield at (417) 862-9284.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Have a healthy and hearty bowl of oatmeal for breakfast

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

Yes, oatmeal is a healthy whole grain (because it contains all of the parts of the oat grain including the bran, endosperm and germ) but is instant oatmeal as healthy as steel cut oatmeal?

It is a question that Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, gets asked frequently by health conscience people.

“The interesting thing is that when we eat the regular oatmeal most of us grew up with, we aren’t eating the grain in its original form. We are usually eating rolled oats,” said Roberts.

Rolled oats have been steamed and flattened. That process decreases the cooking time so old fashioned oatmeal can be prepared in about 10 to 25 minutes.

Quick-cooking oats have been cut even more finely so that the cooking time can be reduced even further, typically three to five minutes.

“Some people prefer steel cut oats. The primary difference between steel cut oats and rolled oats is the shape of the grain,” said Roberts.

Steel cut oats are not flattened. The grain is cut into thirds and then packaged for sale.

When preparing steel cut oats, Roberts says to use four cups of water to each cup of oats and allow 30 to 40 minutes for cooking time. Steel cut oats have a chewy texture and a hearty flavor.

Instant oatmeal is a popular product in many households because of busy schedules. The oat grain in instant oatmeal is partially cooked, dried and then rolled very thin.

“If you read the label of many of the instant oatmeal packages you will find that they have nutrients the old fashioned and steel cut oats don’t have. That is because nutrients have been added,” said Roberts.

A disadvantage of some instant oatmeal is that a significant amount of sugar has been added.

Roberts recommends looking for packages of instant oatmeal that contain less than seven grams of added sugar per packet.

All oatmeal is a good source of fiber, magnesium and thiamine. It also contains phosphorus, potassium, iron and copper.

Oatmeal is allowed to carry a health claim on the food label because of the fiber content. The health claim is that oatmeal along with a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.

“This is because oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber which acts as a sponge in the digestive tract to help remove cholesterol from the body,” said Roberts.

For more information on nutrition issues, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Free aerial photos of your farm or ranch available online

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

Whether you’re a landowner, a hunter, an outdoor enthusiast, there is a useful and free resource available via the Internet from the University of Missouri’s Center for Agricultural, Resource, and Environmental Systems.

According to Wesley Tucker, agriculture and rural development specialist, University of Missouri Extension, people who have Internet access can download aerial photographs of anywhere in Missouri.

“This resource comes in handy in a variety of ways. Maybe you’re scouting a piece of property for hunting or just want a picture of your own land from above,” said Tucker.

In addition to aerial photographs, the website also offers other data like topography, watersheds, geology, census information, crop and livestock numbers.

To access the maps, go to http://maproom.missouri.edu then click on the Interactive Maps box and go through the three step process.

Step 1 is to “Specify the Area of Interest” by putting in the township, range and section of the property you are looking for or by simply selecting the county where the property is located.

“Once the map is created, begin zooming in on the exact property you want to see,” said Tucker.

Step 2 is to “Select the Data Layers” where the user can even limit aerial maps to roads and highways or cities and towns.

Then move to Step 3 to “Verify Your Selections.” If tab three lists everything you want to see, click on the Make Map button to the right.

“Depending on your connectivity speed it may take some time to create the map. But, once on the screen you can use the zoom in button to begin finding your exact piece of property using the cities, roads and highways as guides. Once you zoom in to more than a 1:5000 ratio, the picture will begin to blur,” said Tucker.

However, this level of magnification is still strong enough to identify specific trees in your yard or use the distance button to draw a line down your driveway and measure the distance in feet.

“Whatever your interests, this resource can be helpful in finding out information about a specific piece of property. With deer season coming soon, zooming out a little further to show the stands of timber or water sources in the surrounding area will be very helpful in indentifying deer movements and where to locate that perfect stand,” said Tucker.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Old cattle-feeding habits hard to break

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

Producers have a habit of feeding protein supplements to their cattle after frost and freezing weather hits in the fall-early winter period.

But according to Eldon Cole, a University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, it might be a needed practice under some specific situations but for others it could be an expensive habit.

“As temperatures cool in the fall, many forages decline in protein and palatability which makes protein supplementation worthwhile. With good grazing management practices and stockpiling of fescue, much of the pasture could be in the 10 to 15 percent range in crude protein into January,” said Cole.

Even Bermuda grass could run around 10 percent until the first of the year. Most of the warm season grasses will dip into the single digit range by this time.

Forage testing lets a producer know for sure the quality of the grass being fed.

The other variable in answering the supplementation question is what class of cattle will be grazing the pasture?

“Dry beef cows in the last one-third of gestation only have a crude protein requirement of 8 percent on a dry matter basis. If they are late spring calvers, they only require about a 7 percent protein diet,” said Cole.

Higher levels of protein are required for fall-calving adult cows, but Cole says that unless they are heavy milkers, over 25 pounds per day, their protein needs are no greater than 10 percent.

Cattle that require in excess of 10 percent protein of their daily dry matter intake are: heavy-milking adult cows in the first 90 days of lactation, first-calf heifers in first 90 days of lactation, and almost all classes of growing steer and heifer calves and yearlings.

In this “growing” category some lightweight calves with daily expected gains above 2 pounds, require 16 percent and even more protein in their daily diet.

“With this wide variance in protein requirements it’s easy to see why grouping cattle of like needs helps save protein dollars. Testing the forage, both pasture and any hay that might be fed, and sorting cattle according to their requirements will help use your money more wisely and break the protein buying habit,” said Cole.

For more on the adequate but economical feeding of beef 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, January 18, 2010

Road salts can harm your landscape plants, too

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

During the winter, people rush to the car wash to rid their vehicle of accumulating salts.

Just as salts cause vehicles to corrode, it can also create problems for landscape plants according to Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Winter storms result in tons of salt added to the roads and sidewalks each year. When snow is cleared, it often ends up being sprayed, shoveled, and piled on trees, lawns, and perennial beds.

“The symptoms of salt injury include stunted yellow foliage, premature autumn leaf coloration, death of leaf margins, and twig dieback. On evergreens, needles may turn yellow or brown in early spring,” said Byers.

Salt damage is often confined to branches facing a street. Many plants can recover from an occasional salt spray. If it is a yearly occurrence however, death of the plant may result.

To prevent salt damage, do not plant closer than 50 feet from the road. If this is not feasible, screens of fencing or burlap can be used to deter salt sprays.

Snow from salted streets and sidewalks should not be piled onto plants.

Salts not only injure plants directly but also can change the structure of the soil, causing the soil to become compacted.

“Where runoff of salt is unavoidable, flush the area around the plants in early spring by applying two inches of water over a two- to three-hour period, and then repeating three days later. This will leach much of the salt from the soil,” said Byers.

If salt spray from the road surface is a problem, use water to rinse the foliage and branches of any affected plants when salt spray is heavy and again in early spring.

In problem areas, the salt levels in the soil can be tested. Contact the nearest county extension center for information on soil testing.

“The common salt used on roads and streets is sodium chloride. Alternative salts include calcium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate. Although more expensive, they will not harm plants if applied at low levels,” said Byers. “Another idea is to use materials like sand or sawdust on slick surfaces to improve traction.”

Where salt sprays can’t be avoided, plant salt tolerant species or cultivars that are resistant to salt damage. Contact your local nursery or call the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center for a list of recommended salt tolerant plants.

For more information, or answers to your specific lawn and garden questions, contact Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist, University of Missouri Extension or the Greene County Master Gardener Hotline at (417) 862-9284.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A link to snowfall data for our neck of the woods

With the temperature in the upper 40s, the snow has just about disappeared everywhere, but we could easily get more this month. We can also expect more in February and March. Here are some snowfall figures for Southwest and South Central Missouri to give you an idea what to expect: Snowfall in South Central and Southwest Missouri.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Get a madstone--if you can

Back in the early '80s of the previous century, I worked for a veteran newspaperman named Leon Fredrick. Leon was another Ozarks Boy like me, although he was a few years older. He grew up in Southwest Missouri, served in the Coast Guard and then had been a small-town newspaper publisher most of his life, in addition to editing and publishing a trade magazine for the carnivals.

Leon knew a lot about the Ozarks, and his weekly columns were usually about Ozarks lore, Ozarks history or Ozarks culture.

It was from Leon that I first heard of "madstones" and their usefulness in healing. These stones are used to draw poison out of wounds, Leon explained, and they have nearly miraculous properties. He wrote about how valuable they are, passed down from generation to generation in some Ozarks families.

They're rare because these are not stones found in Ozarks geology. They are calcified bits of matter found in the stomachs of deer. I don't know if modern-day deer hunters look for these rare and valuable stones, but they ought to.

What brought this to my mind was my reading today an article titled "When All Else Fails, Try a Madstone" in the 2010 edition of The Old Farmer's Almanac. I read it in the printed edition of the Almanac (it's the one with the yellow cover and the hole up in the corner so you can hang it on a nail), but you can find a version at Almanac.com. Here's an excerpt:

A mad stone (sometimes called a 'bezoar stone') is used to draw poison out of bites and wounds. It works by absorbing the poison bit by bit, curing the bites by detoxifying them completely.

You can even see a picture of one of the stones. And you'll be able to read some of the comments from readers who have had their own experiences with madstones.

Perhaps the online article will pique your interest enough to go out and buy a copy of the Almanac; you can find them at your nearest Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, which is where I bought my copy.

It might also whet your appetite for Ozarks lore.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Are you sure you want to move to the Ozarks?

Many of you who visit Ozarks Almanac are folks who are planning on (or at least dreaming about) a move to the country or a small town. You want to get out of the "rat race" and lead "a simple life." You think that moving to Southern Missouri would be your ticket to Mayberry.

That's what a lot of people have done. For a few, it works out fine. For others, it is a nightmare. They discover that small towns don't have shopping malls; not even a small city like Rolla has a shopping mall. They find out there's no theater (although Rolla does have the Ozark Actors Theatre in the summer). They find there are no concerts by big-name rock stars or symphonies. They start griping that rural or small-town Missouri is a cultural and commercial wasteland. They long for the city. Eventually they leave, and good riddance.

So, my advice to you: Do lots of research before you move from the "rat race." You may find out too late that it really is your comfort zone.


THE CITY SLICKER'S LAMENT

"Honey, let's get back to the land,"
a city slicker said to his wife,
although "back" was a poor word to use.
For he'd lived in town all his life.

"I want to quit the rat race, buy a farm,
raise chickens, hogs, and a cow.
It'll be easy. Anyone can farm,
You don't have to be smart to know how."

So he took his life savings and bought
Ozarks land because it was cheap,
and then started to prove the Lord's truth
in"As ye sow, so shall ye reap."

When neighbors offered suggestions,
he'd say in a tone downright snide,
"I don't need help from ignorant hillbillies."
Strike one for sowing pride.

And then he began to complain
"No theater, no concerts, I'm bored.
"No mall. This place needs to change."
Strike two: strife and discord.

Drought, hail and falling markets took their toll,
Financial losses he could not abate.
Of course he blamed the people of Missouri.
Strike three: bitterness and hate.

So he sold his livestock and property,
and got himself out of the sticks.
"I'm too intelligent to be a farmer,
agriculture is for stupid hicks."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do you believe Allah is God?

I don't get this at all, so someone is going to have to explain it to me. In Malaysia, which is mostly Muslim, Christians are under attack because they are worshiping Allah. The Catholic newspaper uses the name Allah to refer to God and the Bibles are translated using Allah as the name of God.

Despite the attack, the Christians are standing strong in their worship of Allah: Malaysian Christians stand firm in use of "Allah"

I don't get this. To my way of thinking, Allah is not the Lord God Almighty. Allah is not the great I Am That I Am. He is not Jehovah or Yahweh or the Father.

To my way of thinking, Allah is a false god, since is not a part of the Triune Godhead and he is not the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I'm a little concerned, though, when people who say they're followers of the Lord's Christ, give the Lord the name of a false god.

But, that's just me, and I tend to be conservative and literal in my interpretation of the scriptures.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Some websites about ag and doing it yourself

Here's a blog you'll want to bookmark and visit often, Think Outside the Barn, the blog of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. It's full of news and information about Missouri agricultural products. There are recipes, "Friday Fixin's," using those products.

If you live in outstate Missouri, either on a farm or homestead or in one of the Show-Me State's friendly small towns, you're likely a do-it-yourselfer, so you'll be interested in the revamped Lowes.com. You can go through all the products offered by my favorite home improvement store without getting out of your desk chair. You can even pick out what you want, pay for it online and then go pick it up at your local store. They'll have it ready for you. It's amazing what technology has done for us.

Getting back to agriculture for a minute, here's another good web page, Missouri Farmers Feed US. It's part of the Farmers Feed US website, which is offering free groceries for year. There are also "tours" of several Missouri farms. It's a valuable website.

Finally, if you're interested in ancient agriculture, way back before tractors were air-conditioned, here's an interesting website: Ancient foods.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Don't let dammed ice damage your house

By David Burton
University of Missouri Extension

With all of the snow and fluctuating temperatures this winter, some homeowners may find unwanted icicles hanging from their roof. If so, there are probably ice dams building up and those can cause damage to a house.

According to Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension, non-uniform roof surface temperatures cause ice dams.

“In the winter, when warm air inside the house leaks into the unheated attic, it creates warm areas on the roof, which causes snow on the exterior of the roof to melt,” said Schultheis.

The melting snow moves down the roof slope until it reaches the cold overhang, where it refreezes. The process continues, causing ice to build up along the eaves and form a dam.

"Eventually this dam forces the water to back up under the shingles and sometimes into the ceiling or wall inside the home," said Schultheis.

Besides dislodged roof shingles, sagging gutters, damaged insulation, and adding water stains on interior ceilings and walls, water from ice dams may cause structural framing members to decay, metal fasteners to corrode, and mold and mildew to form in attics and on walls.

Schultheis says the best way to prevent ice dams is to control heat loss from your home.

"In the short-term, remove snow from the roof using a roof rake or push broom, but take care not to damage the roofing materials. Doing this work on or below the roof can be very dangerous, and it’s a job best left to the professionals, said Schultheis.

Another short-term solution is to stop water from flowing into the structure. Schultheis recommends making channels through the ice dam by using a hose with warm tap water. Work up from the lower edge of the dam. The channel will become ineffective within days.

For the long-term, Schultheis says it is a good idea to increase the ceiling and roof insulation in your home to R-38 to cut down on heat loss. Make sure the ceiling is airtight so no warm air can flow from the house into the attic space. Do this by plugging gaps around plumbing vents, wiring, recessed lights, and chimneys.

"Keep the attic cold by providing at least two square feet of attic vent for each 150 square feet of attic area. Where the roof rafters meet the walls at the eaves, provide a 1-inch clearance between the roof sheathing and the ceiling insulation to allow ventilation," said Schultheis.

University of Missouri Extension programs focus on the high-priority needs of Missourians. Each county extension center, with oversight by locally elected and appointed citizens, is your local link to practical education on almost anything.

Postcards from the past

My friend Larry Bowen, who owns The Readers Corner book shop in downtown Rolla, found a wonderful website that includes hundreds of images of postcards related to Route 66.

"It's amazing how quickly we forget what things were like," Larry says.

Many of the buildings depicted in the postcards have been gone for years.

I think the site is a valuable record of life along the old Mother Road that can be enjoyed by those of us old enough to have driven on it regularly. It's also a valuable site to show to young people or transplants to Missouri to prove to them that there was a lot going on here before they came along.

There are several pages of cards. "Pages 11-22 are up and down I-44 from Lebanon to Sullivan, 14-16 are Rolla," Larry notes. Click and enjoy.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

We're going to need an ice age tax now

First, the coalition of scientists, Democrats, environmentalists, politicians, media, United Nations and Al Gore told us we were causing the earth to warm up because we drove our cars to work and heated our houses with electricity. They wanted to cap our use of coal and oil and then tax us to death (if we didn't starve or freeze first) all in the name of putting a halt to "global warming."

Now scientists tell us we're headed into another "ice age." Read this story, The mini ice age starts here, to get the full scoop. Here's the beginning of it to whet your appetite:

The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.

Their predictions – based on an analysis of natural cycles in water temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans – challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013.

According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 per cent, since 2007 – and even the most committed global warming activists do not dispute this.

How will the scientists, Democrats, environmentalists, politicians, media, United Nations and Al Gore twist this into a reason to tax us and regulate us? They can do it, I'm sure, and the voters will go along with it. After all, the voters gave us Socialist President B. Hussein Obama.

With Obama leading this pack, we could wind up paying both a global warming tax and an ice age tax.

Sunday Sermon in Music

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Eagle Days in Missouri

It's too late to go to Eagle Days, by the Missouri Department of Conservation,at Smithville Lake, but there are other opportunities coming up through the end of the month. Click to find out where you can go see eagles and hear about the growing population of the national bird in Missouri.

Missouri's winter eagle watching is spectacular, and we hope you'll join us at any of the following locations to view our national symbol in the wild. If you can't make it to an Eagle Days event, look for eagles in the wild at one of the locations listed below. From late December through early February, watch for eagles perched in large trees along the water's edge. View early in the morning to see the eagles flying and fishing.


Lots of good information about bald eagles in Missouri is available here.

Here's an earlier blog post, too, that is full of good information about bald eagles in Phelps County.

Friday, January 8, 2010

"Warmer" than expected overnight

My front-porch thermometer shows -0.7 and the radio announcer said it is 2 degrees in Rolla. Either way it is much, much warmer than the 7 or 8 below zero the weather service was predicting.

Is this further proof that global warming is real?

Rolla area records for this date: 69 in 2006 and -5 in 1970.

In January 1970, I was a junior at Republic High School, so when I tell you that it got a lot colder when I was a kid, don't argue with me. Maybe this is further proof that global warming is real.

An interesting website about herbs

There's a really interesting report on The Story of Long Creek Herb Farm by founder Jim Long who tells how he came to build his herb business (and writing about herbs and making television appearances about herb) following an injury. He concludes:

At the base of my business are these principles: 1 - Our work has to be enjoyable. Why spend your life doing something you don't like? 2 - We are dedicated to developing an appreciation for herbs, both culinary and medicinal and (3) We offer great customer service, believing it's important to treat others as we would like to be treated.

The website is interesting and full of good information. (No, I'm not getting advertising money for this mention. I just stumbled upon it and liked it.)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Today, I wish I were a school teacher

At 5 a.m. we have 11.9 degrees F as our front-porch temperature. We also have snow on the ground. To say we have 4 inches would be a stretch.

On days like this, I wish I were a teacher, so I could just crawl back in my warm bed and go back to sleep. Somebody's got to keep the economy going so we can raise taxes to pay for those schoolhouses; I'm one of those somebodies so I'm off to work.

UPDATE: It's 7:30 and I'm listening to Wayne Bledsoe's Thursday night bluegrass show on KMST. The pickin' is hot on the kitchen radio, but out on the front porch, only 5 little degrees managed to line up this evening. The weather service forecasts a temperature deficit overnight with a negative-6 temperature.

What's even worse is the wind. It is howling around the house, 21 mph and gusts of 31. Windchild is -13 and lower.

It's pretty doggone cold, but just think how cold it would be if we didn't have that global warming threatening our planet.

Records for this date: 76 in 1965 and minus-9 in 1968.

Who can resist the sound of a banjo?

Do these words fit today's government and economy?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snow is on the way; update: it's here

We've got 6 degrees on the porch this morning and snow is on the way, according to the National Weather Service.

Going to work. Update this afternoon.

AFTERNOON UPDATE: It's 4:39 p.m. and snow has been falling a couple of hours, starting out light and picking up intensity. It was snowing when I came out of the store about an hour ago, and I know it had been snowing at least an hour before that.

I drove home, as I usually do, on Old Route 66, and portions of it were covered. I'm going to have to get up very early in the morning, because I think it will take much longer to get to work.

Porch temperature is 27 degrees. Record high for this date was set just last year, 71 degrees. Record low: minus-2 in 1968.

I'm glad they canceled prayer meeting, because I don't want to get out in the cold tonight and drive on possibly hazardous road surfaces. I'm going to read my Bible, practice my banjo and go to bed early.

Websites for your consideration

Here are five Ozarks- or Missouri-related websites for you to use and enjoy:

Midwest Gardener

My Boston Mountains Garden

Out of My Hat


Nature in the Ozarks

Fly Fishing in the Ozarks

And a bonus blog devoted to cooking:

Something's Burning