Monday, January 31, 2011

Is severe weather on the way?

The weather forecasters say we've got a bad winter storm coming, and people have been emptying the grocery store shelves to get ready for it.

They've also bought up every generator and kerosene heater.

I've heard reports that the ice is going to be like 2007 and the snow is going to be like the blizzards of the 1880s. I heard another report that says we haven't had weather like this since 1912.

My poor wife is "horrified" (her word, used in a phone conversation with her sister in Austin) and wants to move back to Texas tomorrow.

She's watching the weather channel (been watching it all day) and told me just now that the governor has declared a state of emergency for all of Missouri. Nothing has happened yet!
The Old Farmer's Almanac says Feb. 1-5 will be a period of rain, then sunny and mild.

I'm just takng a wait and see attitude.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Want to leave the city? Take a look at Rolla

By R.D. Hohenfeldt
Managing Editor

Most of the people who check The Ozarks Almanac are folks looking for a place to move. Lots of our readers are city people wanting to move to the country to start a farm and lead a quiet, stress-free life or to a small town to live a quiet and stress-free life like Andy and Opie and Aunt Bea. Everyone in the city knows farming and small towns are quiet and stress-free.

Well, folks, consider life in Rolla.

In the Nineties, Rolla was included in a book about the top 100 small towns. Around here, we celebrated that fact and used it as a marketing tool to get more people and more businesses to move to Rolla.

Since then, it has outgrown small-town status and is now a small city, because we've had a lot of commercial growth along with population growth.

We've got a Walgreen's that's still fairly new.
On the opposite corner from Walgreen's, a site that was once a wonderful home-owned grocery store, we now have a strip shopping center with a fitness center next door to an ice cream parlor, plus a video game store and other businesses.
Colton's Steak House just opened.
A new ATT store is going up at the junction of Highways 63 and 72.
The city council and administrator keep telling us that Kohl's is coming; the city approved a tax increment financing plan.

A side benefit to this is that crime is up, too.
We're getting a government grant for the police department to hire a housing officer who will devote full-time to our housing projects.
Every day the local paper has a crime story on page 1. One day last week there was a story about a murder in which an alleged drug dealer allegedly delivered alleged heroin to a woman who died of an alleged overdose; he got charged, but there are many people who think he is being mistreated. It may turn out to be a racial problem.
And last week there also was a story about a fellow being bound over for trial on murder; he allegedly shot his stepson, perhaps accidentally, on a night of drinking with another feller. The stepdad and other feller allegedly threw the stepson's body into a ditch and drove off. This incident allegedly happened in early January and he's already been charged, so I guess the wheels of justice are allegedly speeding up in Phelps County.

So, with all the crime, there's more work for lawyers and paralegals.
Drug use is also up, giving plenty of work to police, sheriff's deputies and paramedics, nurses and emergency room doctors.

I think once word gets out about the growth in both commerce and crime, Rolla will pop up on more city people's radars. They'll be more willing to move here because they'll know we're in the Ozarks but we're not a typical small town; we've become more urbanized, so transplants will feel more at home.

The police chief told the city council that gang activity is up as more young transplants from the city come seeking the good life, so I think my theory is on track. I'm looking for a boom in growth.

If you're a transplant looking to move to the country or a small-town, take a look at Rolla. Won't you join us?

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Obama economy hits a top company with stores throughout the Ozarks

There's a Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in lots of Ozarks towns nowadays, so the news that the company has laid off 1,700 middle managers is an Ozarks story, even though the company is headquartered in North Carolina.

Here are some excerpts from the Charlotte Observer's story, titled Lowe's layoffs cuts back on middle managers:

Home improvement giant Lowe's is laying off 1,700 middle managers across the country, another sign the economic recovery remains precarious.
The company also will hire 8,000 to 10,000 part-time, weekend sales workers, which Lowe's said is intended to boost customer service at peak sales times.
Like the rest of the economy, Mooresville-based Lowe's has suffered through the housing downturn. The company says consumers are still hesitant to invest in their homes, buy major appliances or do big remodeling projects.
Though the layoffs are bad news for Main Street, investors on Wall Street viewed them as a step toward efficiency. Shares were up about 1.1 percent on Wednesday, to $25.85.

I'm afraid more companies are going to be forced to take drastic measures like this, as the Obama economy continues to languish. Nothing he said in the State of the Union address comforts me.

Fortunately, Lowe's is a great company that cares about its people, so it cut managers instead of poor associates (like me) to lay off. It's sad that anyone loses their job, but at least Lowe's didn't lay off a bunch of non-managers, like other companies have done.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Disease moving from Western states in Missouri cattle

By David Burton
University Extension

A recently released report for Missouri (from March through November 2010) shows about 2000 Missouri bulls have been tested for trichomoniasis.

Trich is a reproductive disease in cattle caused by a protozoan parasite that results in early pregnancy loss. It is passed from bull to female during breeding and infected bulls show no symptoms.

“For years it has been viewed as a disease in western states and those of us in the Midwest were not too worried about it. However, in the last 5 to 10 years, the disease has surfaced on more Missouri farms,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

The recent lab results show 90 bulls in the state (or 4.5 percent of all bulls in Missouri) were positive for trich.

“That 4.5 percent may not seem too bad unless you have a bull in that category and your 2011 calf crop could be reduced,” said Cole.

Of the 90 positive animals testing positive, the “hot” spot for them on the map is Barry, Lawrence and Newton counties. Greene, Christian, Stone, McDonald, Barton and Polk counties all have at least one positive showing up.

The rest of the positives come from 12 different counties scattered all over the state that so far only have 1 or 2 positives per county.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that as we do more testing, we’ll find more trich. The new (PCR) test has simplified that procedure and as area vets follow some of the movements of bulls, more trich is discovered,” said Cole.

Earlier this year Missouri put a requirement on non-virgin bulls from other states requiring they be tested and found negative for trich before entering Missouri.

“This must be done within 30 days prior to coming in the state. Since we’re finding more positives, don’t be surprised if tighter restrictions are put in place for intra-state movement of bulls,” said Cole.

Tell tale signs of trich include: cows that recycle due to early embryonic deaths; a high percentage of open cows or short bred cows; a delayed and strung out calving season.

Trich is a sexually transmitted disease that shows no outwardly visible signs. The bull is the carrier, especially older bulls, so know where your bull has been.

“Other threats are rental bulls and bulls who like to jump fences and visit the neighbors. This can work both ways with your bull and the neighbor’s bull,” said Cole. “Buying open or short-bred cows can pose a risk also.”

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Do you need calcium or vitamin D supplements?

By David Burton
University Extension

In recent years there has been lots of information out about the benefits of vitamin D and calcium for promoting bone health.

“At the time, it was thought that many people were deficient and recommendations were made to increase vitamin D intake,” said Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

The Canadian and United States governments asked Institute of Medicine (IOM) to assess the data and make a recommendation for amounts needed for the average citizen.

For calcium, the IOM recommends 700 milligrams per day for children ages 1-3; 1,000 milligrams for children 4 through 8 and no more than 1,300 milligrams per day for youth ages 9 through 18. Most adults through age 50 and men until age 71 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium.

After age 51 for women and men over the age of 71 need no more than 1,200 milligrams per day.
“This is very similar to the prior recommendations for calcium,” said Roberts.

The vitamin D recommendation for everyone in the U.S. and Canada is 600 International Units or IUs per day. People over the age of 71 may need as much as 800 IUs per day.

“The body is able to synthesize its own vitamin D after sun exposure but that varies greatly from person to person and is impacted by sunscreen use. These recommendations were made to meet needs for people who have limited sun exposure,” said Roberts.

Many American adults have been taking supplements of 2,000 or more IUs of vitamin D per day.

The Institute of Medicine has established a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin D for adults at 4,000 IUs per day.

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is the highest average daily intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population.

“For vitamin D, the new recommendation does represent an increase over previous recommendations,” said Roberts.

The 1997 recommendation for the general population was 200 IUs. For adults over the age of 50, 400 IUs were recommended; adults over the age of 70, 600 IUs.

“Calcium helps to build bones and to keep them strong. It helps your muscles contract and your heart beat, plays a role in normal nerve functioning and helps your blood clot. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus and helps deposit them in bones and teeth.

Vitamin D also helps regulate cell growth and plays a role in immunity,” said Roberts.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

What words are used most in the Bible?

Here are "word clouds" that show what words are emphasized in the Bible.

Good gravy

The gravy for chicken-fried steak is supposed to be made from the meat drippings plus flour (if you don't mind lumping) or cornstarch (if you don't like lumping) plus milk, some garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Unfortunately, hardly any Missouri restaurants nowadays bread their own steak. Instead, they buy frozen, pre-breaded steaks which they throw into the deep fryer. There are no drippings to use, so they have to find another source for gravy. I don't know for sure if it comes from a can or if it's from an envelope with water added. Missouri restaurateurs have become too lazy to make authentic chicken-fried steak. I rarely order chicken-fried steak in any Missouri restaurant; I hate to have to say that. The only one I've found that serves hand-breaded steak is Cookin' From Scratch at the I-44 Doolittle exit, and even then it's only on Thursday. The rest of the week they serve the pre-breaded deep fried version. I'm not sure you get authentic gravy any day.

My wife's solution for authentic chicken-fried steak is to go to the store and buy eight big pieces of cube steak. She uses four eggs plus a little milk to make the egg wash. She makes the coating with flour plus a half-cup of Bisquick (she has gone modern on me) and little bit of baking powder.As she puts each piece of meat from the egg wash into the mix, she salts and peppers the meat to taste.

It is delicious, and makes a great Sunday dinner. I ate a couple of those steaks plus mashed potatoes and some cooked carrots, with sweet tea today, then sat in my recliner, stuffed, while watching Green Bay beat Chicago.

Now it is several hours later and I'm watching the Steelers give the Jets a pounding. I'm hungry again.

Mighty fine day.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to avoid stress for the cook

By David Burton
University Extension

Family gatherings--whether for a reunion or for a holiday like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Christmas or Thanksgiving --are meant to be happy times, but can be stressful for the cook.

According to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension, one way to avoid last minute stress is to prepare some of the food ahead of time and freeze it.

“When the family gathers you will be cool, calm and collected because of your forethought,” said Roberts. “From casseroles to cookies, you can have a large portion of your holiday meal prepared before the celebration.”

Some things freeze better than others.

“Things that may not have the quality you would be proud to serve include meringue, cream or custard pie fillings, mayonnaise, sour cream and vegetables you would use for a salad like lettuce, cucumbers, radishes and celery,” said Roberts. “Uncooked potatoes and cooked pasta don’t freeze well on their own, but you can get great results with these foods in a casserole.”

Getting a good quality end product requires careful handling from preparation to table.

Foods that will be re-heated before serving should be slightly undercooked before freezing to help avoid overcooking.

Roberts also recommends cooling foods quickly before freezing. This can be done in the refrigerator or by setting the prepared casserole in a pan of ice water.

“Be sure to wrap your food well. Air shortens shelf life and can impact color, flavor and texture in undesirable ways,” said Roberts.

Cheese or crumb toppings on casseroles can become soggy or dry in the freezing process. Add these when the dish is being reheated to serve.

It is hard to find information about how long it takes to reheat a frozen dish such as a casserole.
As a rule of thumb, use the oven setting at which the dish was originally cooked. Start with less than double the original cooking time.

For example, if the original cooking time was 30 minutes, start with about 50 minutes from the frozen state, but be sure to check it often at the end of that time.

“A good clue that the casserole is thoroughly reheated is that the edges are bubbling and the center is hot,” said Roberts.

University of Missouri Extension has a guide sheet on this topic entitled, “Quality for Keeps: Freezing Home-Prepared Foods.” It can be found at the nearest MU Extension or online at

“This guide sheet provides information on how to freeze baked products and doughs, main dishes and combination foods, soups and sauces, fruit and vegetable dishes and desserts and sweets,” said Roberts.

For more information on nutrition issues, go online to or contact one of the two nutrition and health education specialists working in the Ozarks: Tammy Roberts, (417) 682-3579 or Dr. Pam Duitsman, (417) 866-3039.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How much beef will you get from that steer?

Interest in putting large quantities of beef in the freezer seems to be picking up, according to Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

“As more home-raised beef appears along with all-natural, forage or grass-fed beef, questions arise about the yield of packaged beef you’ll take to the freezer out of a 1000- to 1200-pound animal,” said Cole.

There is considerable variation in the amount of beef the animal produces depending on sex, age, flesh condition and class of cattle.

“Perhaps the greatest variable is the locker plant procedure itself. How much bone, fat and variety meats like the liver, heart, tongue and even the tail are prepared for you,” said Cole.

Another factor can be the amount of lean wanted in ground beef servings. A rather fat burger might run 30 percent fat – 70 percent lean while a lean burger could run 10 percent fat and 90 percent lean.

“Most households prefer an 80:20 blend for burgers but all of these decisions influence the amount you take home,” said Cole.

Research and practical experience indicate that a 1,100 pound steer that’s been fed a concentrate feed for 90 or 100 days should yield roughly 670 pounds of hanging beef.

Cole says the typical yield or dressing percentage is 60 to 62 percent. Thinner and older animals, especially cows, will have a lower dress.

“The typical beef carcass that is processed into closely trimmed cuts, some boneless, some bone-in with regular ground beef yields about 65 to 67 percent of the carcass weight into wrapped beef,” said Cole.

That means the 670-pound hanging weight now is broken down to about 442 pounds (670 lbs. x .66 = 442 lbs.). Remember, the 670 pound hot carcass weight shrinks some during the 10 to 14 day aging period.

“First-time buyers of a whole or half beef may anticipate more fancy steaks than they receive.

Those top quality steaks are cut from the rib and short loin which together make up about 18 percent of the animal’s carcass weight,” said Cole.

Cole says the current beef market is strong and with the economy the way it is, many consumers are not financially able to buy a whole carcass.

“Producers who normally market carcass beef are developing smaller packages or bundles of beef cuts to accommodate their customers,” said Cole.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Taking care of sheep and goats

By David Burton
University Extension

Where there are livestock, there will be death. However, every livestock producer wants to minimize death losses, from both a humane and economic standpoint.

An effective animal health program is an essential part of successful sheep and dairy goat management programs according to Dr. Jodie Pennington, small ruminant educator with Lincoln University Extension.

“The key to minimized death is to be observant of diseases or problems with the herd or flock and to act promptly and properly to correct any deviations from normal observations, including correcting faulty equipment and facilities,” said Pennington.

Likewise, Pennington says good feeding and breeding will not result in maximum produc­tion if sheep and goats are not kept in good health.

Pennington says spending a few minutes every day watching your animals is time well spent.

“You can learn the normal behavior and attitude of your sheep and goats and then can recognize anything that may be wrong. This knowledge is one of the most important characteristics of a good herder,” said Pennington.

If abnormal behavior is observed, use common sense, experience, knowledge and your physical senses to determine the problem. Don’t overlook the obvious; and observe the facilities and environment to see if any changes could be affecting the animals.

“I also recommend recording all observations on a permanent record,” said Pennington. “As with any other animal enterprise, it is important to keep good records and have a plan to follow when managing your goat herd.”

Using a production calendar for managing a herd not only provides a schedule to follow for production and health practices but allows for timely breeding and management for specific markets.

Since each herd is different, Pennington says it is important to work with a veterinarian to create a herd health plan. The plan will need to include information on each animal regarding medications, vaccinations, wormers, injuries, production, breeding, and culling.

“The best economic returns are realized when disease problems are at a minimum,” said Pennington. “Preventive medicine is almost always less expensive than treating disease.”

Because symptoms of some diseases in sheep and goats may be similar, Pennington recommends working closely with a veterinarian. The veterinarian has the training to provide a diagnosis or the means of obtaining a diagnosis when a disease occurs.

“The veterinarian should also be familiar with products for treating sheep and goats plus current regulations and health requirements for shipping animals,” said Pennington.

With goats and sheep, the most common nutritional problems are being either too skinny or too fat and animals that are off-feed.

Pennington says each problem can be prevented by properly balancing the ration and controlling other diseases.

“Frequent observations can allow early detection of animals that are too fat or skinny and minimize their effects,” said Pennington.

The quality and quantity of feed during the dry period affects animals throughout at least the next year.

“Emphasis should be given to the importance of nutrition in any stage of develop­ment of your sheep and goats,” said Pennington.

For more information, contact Dr. Jodie Pennington, region small ruminant educator with Lincoln University at the Newton County Extension Center in Neosho, Mo., telephone (417) 455-9500.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Test your rural water to make sure your well is safe

By David Burton
University Extension

Rural residents who get their water from private wells need to make sure their water supply is safe according to Bob Schultheis, a natural resources engineering specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

The best way to make sure water is safe is with an annual water test that monitors for bacteria and other contaminants that can make well water unhealthy.

"This inexpensive test can be obtained through your county’s health department and can provide peace of mind for rural homeowners, or can alert them to a serious problem that needs correcting,” said Schultheis.

Sample bottles for water tests, along with instructions, are available from the county health departments. Results are normally mailed back within seven to 10 days.
Schultheis responds here to the most common questions he receives on this issue.

Q: Protecting the safety of our drinking water is important, but difficult, because of the fractured geology and cave structure underlying the Ozarks. How big of a problem is contamination of water wells in rural areas?

A: Missouri Department of Health testing results show that, depending on the county, one-third to one-half of private water well systems in southwest Missouri are contaminated with coliform bacteria at unsafe levels.

Q: What are some common ways water wells can get contaminated?

A: Failing septic systems located near the well are the biggest concern, especially if the well was drilled prior to 1987. Heavy rainfall flushing down sinkholes and losing streams, rapid housing development within a couple of miles of the well, and opening the plumbing system to make repairs are other common ways.

Q: How often should a private water well be tested for bacteria and what does it cost?

A: The water should be tested at least annually, and preferably quarterly. Sample bottles with instructions can be obtained from your county health department and the testing costs $10 per sample. For most accurate results, keep the sample cool and away from light and get it to the lab within six hours of drawing it. Test results are returned to you within a week and should be kept with your important papers for liability purposes.

Q: If my well tests positive for bacteria, what can I do to correct it?

A: Shock-chlorination with ordinary, unscented laundry bleach or swimming pool chlorine tablets is often an inexpensive and effective way to correct the problem. After seven to 10 days, the water should then be rechecked for bacteria.

Q: Where can I get more information on water testing and treatment options?

A: For information on water testing and treatment procedures, contact the nearest University of Missouri Extension Center. These helpful MU Extension publications are available: WQ101 "Understanding Your Water Test Report," WQ102 "Bacteria in Drinking Water," WQ103 "Nitrate in Drinking Water" or WQ104 "Understanding Home Water Treatment Systems." These guides are also available online at

Interested persons can also contact Schultheis at (417) 859-2044 for more information or for a copy of his step-by-step disinfection guide.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beef cattle record-keeping book available in 2 Ozarks counties

By David Burton
University Extension

The popular pocket-sized beef cattle Red Book is now available from University of Missouri Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri for $5.

The pocket-sized book contains the regular calendar in the back half. The front includes gestation table, codes for death loss, calving ease, calf vigor, body condition scoring (BCS) and Beef Quality Assurance National Guidelines.

“There are also spaces for inventory numbers, pasture usage and guides for various performance measures. There is space for nearly 800 calf birth records or about one-half that if you need two pages per calf,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

The Redbook originated in Idaho in 1985 as part of their Integrated Resource Management Program. It is now widely accepted as a valid method of tracking production information on beef cattle operations.

In the last few years the Redbook has been developed into an Excel spreadsheet. The book itself can be used in the field and kept in a shirt pocket or on the dashboard of the truck and eventually transfer the data to the computer spreadsheet.

More information on the Redbook record system may be found at

“Once farmers use the book they get hooked on them and wouldn’t be without one the next year,” said Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension. “These books even make nice stocking stuffers at Christmas.”

Sponsors of the Redbook vary from area to area. Those handled by University of Missouri Extension are co-sponsored by Missouri Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifers, Inc.

County offices charge a fee of $5 or more for the Red Books and they must be picked up in person at either MU Extension Center in Lawrence or Cedar counties.

For more information, contact any of the MU Extension livestock specialists in southwest Missouri: Eldon Cole in Mt. Vernon, (417) 466-3102 or Dona Goede in Cedar County, (417) 276-3313.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Get your financial house in order

By David Burton
University Extension

After spending big during the holidays, many people make getting their financial house in order a top New Year’s resolution.

“Any day is a good day to make financial resolutions,” said Janet LaFon, family financial education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

There are, however, several key areas in financial planning, like keeping financial records, starting a savings plan and getting a will done, that people need to remember all year according to LaFon.

“One of the best things a person can do is set up a home filing system for financial records. This will make it easier to find your financial information when it is needed. If you already have a system, spend time cleaning out items no longer needed,” said LaFon.

The New Year is also a good time to review beneficiaries named in insurance policies and wills to make sure those named are still the people you want to include.

“If you do not already have a will or some other form of estate plan, now would be a good time to get one in place. If you do have a will or plan, review it to make sure it still reflects your wishes,” said LaFon.

Starting or adding to a savings program is another financial resolution a person should try to keep. LaFon recommends that instead of waiting until the end of the month, you should pay yourself first.

“It doesn’t have to be large amounts. You’ll be surprised how quickly even small amounts can add up. The key is doing it on a regular basis,” said LaFon.

Credit card debt is a critical area for many, especially after the holidays. LaFon recommends developing a plan for getting bills paid and concentrating on paying off credit cards with the highest rates of interest first.

“As you’re paying off the current bills, think about how you use credit cards and decide if changes are needed. If your answer is yes, then cut up the plastic,” said LaFon.

Saving money by studying fuel economics

By David Burton
University Extension

With the arrival of winter weather and the end of some energy tax credits this past December, there are lots of people looking for alternative heat sources. How can a person compare the economics of the different fuels?

According to Bob Schultheis, natural resource engineering specialist with University of Missouri Extension, to compare one fuel to another, you need to know three things: the heat content of the fuels, their cost per selling unit and the efficiency of each heating system.

Q: There are several different variables so how can they be compared?

A: “Heat content is measured in British Thermal Units, commonly called BTUs. Since heat content, selling unit and efficiency all vary between fuels, the "Standard Heating Unit" (SHU) formula is used to convert these variables for side-by-side comparison. One SHU is equal to 100,000 BTUs,” said Schultheis.

Q: Where does a person get these numbers?

A: “Your utility company can tell you the heat content and cost per selling unit they provide. The
efficiency of the heating units can be obtained from the manufacturer. But be aware that the average efficiency of a fossil-fueled heating system in real life is usually 70 to 80 percent of the manufacturer's claimed efficiency. That's because regular maintenance is often neglected or recommended operating procedures are ignored,” said Schultheis.

Q: How do the different fuels compare in cost right now?

A: “Electricity, as it has been for several years, is actually cheaper to heat with than propane gas. Wood is also lower cost. But before you buy a different heating system, factor in not only the efficiency and cost of fuel, but also the heating system's purchase price including installation, its convenience of use and how long you plan to stay in your home to pay it off,” said Schultheis.

To compare fuel costs, an Excel worksheet is available as a free download online at or contact Schultheis by telephone, (417) 859-2044, to obtain a copy of the worksheet

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are you ready for a winter disaster?

By David Burton
University Extension

Packing a disaster kit is an easy way to help protect yourself and your family during inclement weather. However, you also need to pack a disaster kit for your farm to help protect your livestock and farm facilities.

During the winter, cold temperatures and icy road conditions make it extremely important to be prepared. That is why groups focused on safety recommend protecting yourself and your family by being prepared this winter.

“Having certain items on hand to protect your farm during a disaster is just good planning,” said Amanda Marney, an agriculture preparedness specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“Remember that planning ahead can minimize damage to your livestock and property.”

To help you prepare, here is a quick review of both family disaster kits and farm disaster kits.

The important farm items are as follows:

Sandbags and plastic sheeting, in case of flood/possibility of water damage.
Wire and rope to secure objects.
Lumber and plywood to protect windows.
Extra fuel for tractors and vehicles. The fuel should be located in a safe location in a barn or outbuilding.
Hand tools.
Fire extinguishers should be located in all barns and in all vehicles.
Safe supply of livestock feed.
A generator in case of power failure.

Here is a list of supplies you should have available in your family disaster kit.

Water, and lots of it. At least 1 gallon daily per person for 3 to 7 days.
Food - at least enough for 3 to 7 days, including non-perishable packaged or canned food / juices, foods for infants or the elderly, snack foods, non-electric can opener, cooking utensils / fuel, paper plates, plastic utensils.
Blankets / Pillows.
Clothing - seasonal, rain gear, sturdy shoes.
Medical supplies - first aid kit, medicines, prescription drugs.
Special Items - for infants and the elderly.
Toiletries - hygiene items.
Moisture wipes.
Flashlight - extra batteries.
Radio - battery-operated and NOAA weather radio.
Cash - (Banks and ATMs may not be open or available for extended periods).
Important documents - in a waterproof container (includes insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, social security card).
Toys, books and games.
Keep a set of tools with you during the storm.
Vehicle fuel tanks filled.
Pet care items (including proper identification, immunization records, ample supply of food and water, a carrier or cage, medications, muzzle and leash).

For more information on emergency preparation, contact Amanda Marney, an agriculture preparedness specialist with University of Missouri Extension, by telephone at (417) 461-1319 or (417) 461-1319 or by e-mail at

Information can also be found on the agriculture preparedness webpage at and a video on how to pack a disaster kit can be found online at

It's safe to eat clean, white (not yellow) snow

By David Burton
University Extension

What could be more fun than eating clean, white, soft snow gathered in our own yard? Not much, unless you still buy into some of the negative information and urban legends about the serious dangers of letting children eat snow.

The fact is, there are plenty of warnings to be found -- but very little research to prove -- that letting your children eat snow ice cream will stunt their growth.

According to snow research done at Brigham Young University, there is no need to tell children not to eat snow as long as it is fresh. The pristine snow that has just fallen through the air and landed on the ground is not going to be dangerous or unhealthy according to the BYU study.

"I’m surprised there isn’t more information," said Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health specialist with University of Missouri Extension. "Frankly, a lot of it is conflicting. Basically, I’d say treat it like other desserts – eat it in moderation."

There are several simple ways to make snow ice cream. Every recipe begins with placing a clean container outside to collect clean, fresh snow as it falls.

Then, in a smaller bowl combine one cup of milk or Half & Half, one-half cup of granulated sugar, one teaspoon of vanilla extract, a dash of salt and then blend it until the sugar is melted and mixture is smooth.

“For anyone counting calories, another recipe calls for stirring in sugar and vanilla to taste, along with just enough milk for the desired consistency,” said Roberts.

Whatever you do, nutrition specialists agree it is best to stay away from some of the old-time snow ice cream recipes that included raw eggs.

"We've learned a lot about egg safety, and eating raw eggs is out of style. The concern is over salmonella from raw eggs," said Roberts.

A video on the subject is available online at or you can search for “making snow ice cream – the safe way.”

Road condition map online

We have had some weather in 2011.
On the last day of 2010, killer tornadoes killed two people on the north side of Rolla and two people south of Rolla. Folks have been spending the first part of the year cleaning up the damage to homes, barns, shed, trees.
Now we have snow covering us. It started yesterday afternoon and went through the night.
If you're planning to travel today, check this Road condition map first.
Be very careful.

Break the codes of plastic recycling

By David Burton
University Extension

Recycling numbers imprinted on the bottom of plastic containers have a special meaning and some should cause consumers pause, according to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension.

“Most people know that there are numbers they need to use caution with but don’t know which ones,” said Roberts. “Recycling codes on the bottom of plastic containers can be any number between 1 and 7.”

The numbers actually indicate the type of plastic in the container. Here’s how it breaks down:

1: This is polyethylene terephthalate (called PET or PETE). Generally this is disposable water and soda bottles. It is generally safe but is porous so bacteria and flavors can accumulate so don’t re-use these containers.

2: High density polyethylene (HDPE) is considered safe and has low risk of leaching chemicals. Milk jugs, juice bottles, detergent and shampoo bottles are made of this.

3: Polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC) requires caution. There are phthalates which are softening chemicals that can interfere with hormonal development. PVC is used to make food wraps, bottles for cooking oil and plumbing pipes. “There are recommendations to minimize the use of this type of plastic around food. The risk is highest when containers start wearing out and are heated,” said Roberts.

4: Low density polyethylene (LDPE) is not considered to pose a risk. It is used to make cling wrap, grocery bags and sandwich bags.

5: Polypropylene (PP) is used to make yogurt containers and water bottles with a cloudy finish, medicine bottles, and straws. It is considered to be safe.

6: Polystyrene (PS) or Styrofoam is used to make disposable containers such as plates and cups. There is evidence that this type of plastic leaches potentially toxic chemicals. “It is important to avoid heating anything in these containers,” said Roberts.

7: This is all plastics invented after 1987 and they include polycarbonate which contains bisphenol A or BPA. Scientists believe BPA can act like the hormone estrogen. In animal studies estrogen has been linked to breast, prostate and other reproductive system problems as well as some cancers. Examples of some things made under this category include baby bottles some reusable water bottles and food containers that resist staining. It is important to note that not all plastics that have the number 7 contain BPA but the number 7 indicates that it could.

“Bottom line is that plastics that have a recycling code of 3, 6 or 7 should be used with caution especially with food or drinks. Be especially cautious with heat on plastics labeled with recycling code numbers 3 and 6,” said Roberts.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Will you help revitalize democracy?

Do you have opinions about how our American democracy can be revitalized both locally and nationally?

Do you feel like the democracy is working well and does not need to be revitalized?
Would you like to know how to get your family, neighbors or co-workers more involved with the democratic process?

Or, do you just like to share ideas with others?

If your answer is “yes” to any of those questions then you need to get online and participate in a University of Missouri Extension discussion and survey on the topic reclaiming the public’s role in democracy.

“The online reading material to be downloaded is provided free by the Kettering Foundation and National Issue Forums,” said David Burton, a civic communication specialist with MU Extension. “I’ve put together a survey from the questions in the reading material that is now available online and is designed to capture your thoughts on the primary issues of this topic.”
A discussion guide entitled “Democracy’s Challenge: Reclaiming the Public’s Role” can be found by searching for the title at or more directly at the public issues section under the community development section found online at

Participants are asked to read the advance material and then take the online survey found on the same page or at this link: In the coming weeks, details on what others think on this topic will be shared.

“Your response to these questions, along with the opinions of thousands of others who participate in forums, will be reflected in a summary report that will be available to all citizens, officeholders, members of the news media, and others in your community,” said Burton.

Growing orchids isn't so difficult

By David Burton
University Extension

What comes to mind when you think of an orchid? Probably phrases like exotic and beautiful, wonderful color, great fragrance and unusual growth habits.

“Orchids really are wonderful and unusual but, contrary to popular believe, they are not difficult to care for if you choose the right orchid,” said Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

Many of the popular orchids are epiphytic, which means they grow in nature on the branches and trunks of trees. Epiphytic orchids have special roots that are able to take up water and nutrients when exposed to the air.

Keep that in mind as you match orchids to your home. And also remember that light, temperature and humidity are keys for orchids.

“I recommend that beginners start with easy to grow orchids like Phalanopis, Cattleya or Dendrobium,” said Byers.

Pots with orchids need to be well drained. The growing medium should include chopped fir bark, lava rocks, rock wool and bark mixtures.

“Don’t overwater,” said Byers. “Once a week for large orchids or twice a week for small orchids and don’t let water set in the saucers.”

It will also be necessary to fertilize with a diluted solution and repot orchids only when necessary.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thankful for Ozarks agriculture in 2010

By David Burton
University Extension

Farming can be dangerous, demanding and sometimes financially risky. But even with those downsides, farmers and producers have a lot to be thankful for this year.

Patrick Byers, a horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension, says he sees several reasons for both urban and rural farmers to be thankful for 2010.

“For starters, local farmers have seen a groundswell of interest in locally produced food to be thankful for,” said Byers. “Residents of Springfield can also be thankful for the opportunity to legally keep six chickens in the back yard.”

Byers says fruit growers have also had a bountiful harvest in 2010 and vegetable growers have an active grower’s organization (Missouri Vegetable Growers Association) for which they should be thankful.

Eldon Cole, a livestock specialist with MU Extension, says in southwest Missouri it seems when one sector of agriculture prospers, another one is not so fortunate.

“Grain prices have shot up which causes happiness for those who have corn, beans, wheat and grain sorghum,” said Cole. “The dry October was really appreciated by those with row crops because it enabled them to harvest hem earlier than normal.”

However, those who produce livestock and poultry may not be so thankful right now.

“Even with prices down, the beef cattle market still remains solid. I think beef producers should be thankful for the current market and future price forecasts for beef look favorable,” said Cole.

Most farmers have also been thankful for the weather this past year.

“We’ve had dry spells and wet spells, cold spells and hot spells but overall, it all averages out,” said Cole. “The good thing is that most farmers have an adequate quantity of hay, even though the quality could be better.”

Rick Mammen, an agronomy specialist with MU Extension, says farmers in the western half of southwest Missouri are giving thanks for both good crops and good prices.

“Often, we have one or the other, but not both at the same time. That doesn’t speak for all of agriculture. The dairy industry has been challenged with high input costs plus marginal product prices,” said Mammen.

Grain farmers in the Ozarks have also been thankful for a late frost which allowed the late-planted soybeans to finish maturing according to Mammen.
With corn and soybean prices more than 60 percent higher than in June, many Missouri farmers are using this good fortune to invest in much-needed upgrades and machinery.

“The ag economy is strong right now compared to the general economy, and that breeds new investment,” said Brent Carpenter, an analyst with the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. “Farmers are replacing and buying new and larger equipment, which is showing up not only in strong sales for larger tractors, combines and pickups but also grain bins and computers.”

The 8th of January

On this date in 1814, Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans. It was the final battle of the War of 1812; the damnable British had hoped to come up the Mississippi and take the Louisiana Purchase, which included what would later be our state, away from the United States. If they'd been successful, we hillbillies would be talking with funny accents.

Someone named Traditional wrote a fiddle tune called "The Eighth of January," apparently to commemorate Jackson's victory, said to be America's greatest victory on land in that war.

An Arkansas Ozarker named Jimmy Driftwood (well, that was the name he used in his songwriting career, but he was born with a different name) wrote the words to the song in 1936. The story I always heard was that he wrote it to for his students as a way to get them interested in the history. That song was a huge hit for Johnny Horton in 1959, and it won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year.

Jimmy Driftwood later established what grew into the Arkansas Folk Center and he helped direct the formation and growth of the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Ark.

Restoring trust in the news media

University of Missouri Extension and the Society of Professional Journalists are hosting an online discussion on how to restore the public’s trust in the news media.

The materials being used for the online discussion and survey are provided by the Kettering Foundation and National Issues Forum.

A discussion guide entitled “News Media and Society: How to Restore the Public Trust?” can be found by searching for the title at or more directly at the “public issues section” under the “community development” link.

Participants are asked to read the free advance material and then take the online survey found on the same page or at this link:

A video of introduction can also be found at

In the coming months, details on what others think on this topic will be shared.

“Good journalism is vitally important for a strong democracy, but studies and surveys show that Americans increasingly do not trust the news media,” said David Burton, civic communication specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

According to Burton, the issue book on this topic suggests three approaches to repairing the relationship between the news media and the American people.

“Each approach offers different perspectives on what has damaged citizens’ trust. Each presents various ways to address those problems,” said Burton.

These online resources are being made available by University of Missouri Extension and the Southwest Missouri PRO Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The local chapter received a competitive national grant from the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation to host “Public and the Press” programs.

For information on bringing this program to your community or school, contact the Greene County Extension Center at (417) 881-8909 or e-mail David Burton at

Does Mark Twain really need to be edited?

I suppose you've heard that a new edition of the classic book by Missouri author Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, will be expunged of a couple of words that have become politically incorrect.

One is "nigger," which is used to describe Huck's black/Negro/African-American traveling companion, Jim the slave.

The other is "injun," used primarily to desribe the villain, Injun Joe.

Ozarks First, which is Springfield channel 10, has a report on the reaction of Ozarkers. Here are some excerpts:

While Twain's message has stood the test of time, his language is being tested. When opening the classic novel, one word jumps off the page: the "n" word.
"I hate this word with a passion," says Nixa junior Musa Moss. "It shouldn't be in there."
"Wow, people actually did say this," adds junior Kendall Barclay.It's repeated an astonishing 219 times.
"It feels like you're with Huck," says Barclay. "The whole time. The way Huck talks to you, personally talking to you."
"If they are uncomfortable to hear that word, it's actually a good sign," says Nixa English teacher Sheila Long. "It should be uncomfortable to hear that word repeated so much."
In a re-print due out next month, Publisher Newsouth Books replaced the offensive "n" word with "slave."
The company's hoping to express Mark Twain's 19th Century message in 21st Century language.
"It's better to have the novel taught and be censored than not taught at all, because it's such an important book," says Long.
"Maybe if they want to start with this version and then see the original, then that's good," says Dr. Resa Willis, an English professor at Drury University.

First of all, I find it confusing that the company wants to update the language from the 19th Century to the 21st Century. If that's truly the motive, shouldn't the publisher substitute "nigga" for "nigger." That seems to be the more modern, truly "hip" word to use.

Second, I find it pretty disappointing, but not surprising, that a high school English teacher and a university professor both find it acceptable that the censoring of Twain is a good thing. Even though Ernest Hemingway was impressed with Twain's Finn, I suspect we're seeing the beginning of the end of teaching Twain.

Now, I'm not in favor of going around using what Ozarks First calls "the n-word," so don't try to make me out as a racist. But I'm also not in favor of changing the words of a classic around because people are too sensitive and have no sense of history.

Battle of Springfield was Jan. 8, 1863

Well, you can learn something new every day. I was reading the Springfield News-Leader website and found out the Battle of Springfield occurred on this date, Jan. 8, in 1863.
I didn't even know there was a Battle of Springfield. The only battle I knew about was Wilson's Creek. I thought I knew it all, and then found out I didn't.

Here's an excerpt:
It had been a short, cold night for Confederate cavalrymen camped south of Springfield.
They awoke that Thursday, Jan. 8, 1863, to find frost on their blankets.
After riding the night before through Ozark, where a small Union garrison had already fled and set fire to its post, the Confederates stopped and bedded down for three or four hours' sleep, local Civil War historian John Rutherford said. Then it was on to their next fight: the Battle of Springfield.
The day ahead, 148 years ago today, would see repeated cavalry charges, deadly volleys of close range gunfire, artillery shelling and houses put to the torch.
Rutherford, a local history associate with the Springfield-Greene County Library District, said the approaching Confederates likely crossed ground that would become the National Cemetery -- where a number of them and their Union foes that day would eventually be buried.
The raid on Springfield was part of a strategy to hamstring Union operations in Arkansas. It was less a single clash of two armies and more a series of small, fierce firefights as the Confederates probed for weak spots in the Union defenses.
Confederate Brig. Gen. John Marmaduke and a cavalry force about 1,870 strong had left camp on the Arkansas River northwest of Little Rock on Dec. 31, 1862, and had ridden toward Missouri.
Two days later, a column led by Col. Joseph C. Porter left Pocahontas, Ark.
Marmaduke and Porter were to meet at Hartville, about 60 miles east of Springfield. Their mission, initially, was to disrupt Union operations, especially those directed at Arkansas.
Marmaduke, however, heard that Springfield -- a major supply depot for Union operations in southern Missouri and Arkansas -- was weakly defended. He turned toward Springfield and sent orders to Porter to meet him there.
Union scouts, meanwhile, spotted Marmaduke, and word reached Springfield on Jan. 7 that a Confederate force of 4,000 to 6,000 men was on the way.
The reported number of raiders was highly inflated, but the Union commander in Springfield, Brig. Gen. Egbert Brown, still had good reason to be alarmed. He had only 1,343 men in his command.

This report also directed me to a valuable website that I did not know about. If you're interested in the Civil War in Missouri, try this: Community Conflict: The impact of the Civil War in the Ozarks

Long-haul trucking from Mexico offers job growth in the U.S.

President Obama, who promised voters he would bring change, continues to work hard to transform America.

His newest plan is to allow Mexican truck drivers to provide long-haul services in the United States.

Ozarks truckers are not happy about it. Here's an excerpt from the report:

The Obama Administration is raising the ire of trucker drivers across the country, by proposing opening U.S. roads to Mexican trucking companies. The proposal would allow long-haul Mexican trucks to move cargo into the United States. It's something for which Mexico has been pushing but local American truckers strongly oppose.
Right now, Mexican trucks travel a very limited distance across the border.
"I see them all the time when you go down to Laredo and get close to the border. They come over. They pick up our loads. They bring them back across," said truck driver Dustin Walensky of Aurora.
A new proposal by the U.S.Department of Transportation would allow long-haul trucking by Mexican companies.

Another issue is safety. The proposal calls for safety audits, emissions standards and driver background checks, but those in the U.S. trucking industry say the trucks that they've seen could not be safe.

"Their trucks are barely held together. They're older; a lot of the old cab-overs they take over and they fix up, but they're not fixed up; they're dangerous," said Walensky.

The proposal comes after legislation signed in 2009 ended a pilot program begun in 2007 that allowed a limited number of Mexican companies to haul freight beyond a 25-mile zone. Mexico has protested the lack of access as a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds the proposal.

I see three economic sectors profiting greatly from this move by President Obama.

One is the Drug Trade Sector. We've already got a lot of Mexican drug trade up and down Interstate 44 through Rolla, and putting Mexican trucks on the highway is bound to increase the volume of dope moving through Missouri. That will mean more employment for drug dealers, and it could trickle through the Mexican economy as they order more trucks to put on U.S. highways.

Another is the Law Enforcement Sector. If we're going to allow more Mexican trucks on the road and they're going to carry drugs, we're going to need to increase our law enforcement on the highways to try and stop this drug trade. We'll need more police, more bailiffs, more jailers, to take care of the spurt in crime.

Finally, and this, too, is related, is the Shyster Lawyer Sector. Those Mexican drug couriers will need to be represented in U.S. courts. Moreover, there is an opportunity here for more lawsuits due to so-called "racial profiling." Anytime someone in the Law Enforcement Sector stops someone in the Drug Trade Sector, someone in the Shyster Lawyer Sector needs to be there to hand out business cards and promise to sue the local government, state government and federal government for gazillions of dollars.

I see lots of business opportunity here; no wonder the U.S. Chamber is supporting it.

Old-school calendar raises money for association

Here's an idea your county or community might think about for 2012: a local historical calendar.

A 12-month color wall calendar for 2011, featuring photos of one-room schools in Greene County, was printed in Greene County with all proceeds from the limited-edition calendar benefitting the Ozarks Country School Association.

The following one-room schools in Greene County are featured on the 2011 calendar: Locust Prairie, Rountree, Kelly Chapel, Northstar, Lindsey, Liberty, Willey, Flint Hill, the 1905 One-Room School at MSU, Flatrock, Coleman and St. Elmo.

The Ozarks Country School Association is a community development program of MU Extension that partners with other historical groups in the region.

The mission of the OCSA is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of the one-room school experience in the Ozarks. The goal of the organization is to work with groups as well as interested individuals and building owners to raise funds and awareness to maintain the historic one-room school buildings in the Ozarks and develop them as rural community centers.

Would this work for your county? How about photos of old churches? Or something else you might think of.

For more information about OCSA or becoming a member, contact David Burton at (417) 881-8909, via e-mail at or online at

Will you lose weight this year? Will you keep it off?

Did you make a resolution to lose weight this year? How are you doing here at the end of the first complete week in the New Year?

I joined a weight-loss team at the store where I work. It's part of a corporate-wide contest to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. I don't have a loss to report because I didn't have an official weight to begin with. I went to the doctor Thursday and learned my true weight, so that's my starting point.

We've got a bunch of recipes for healthy dishes, so I hope to have good news to report as the weeks go by.

Here's an essay by David Burton, a writer for University Extension, based in Springfield:

One of the top ten New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight. People who have lost weight know that once the weight is lost, it is very hard to maintain that loss.
“Only about one in five people who are successful at losing 10 percent of their body weight are able to maintain the loss for one year,” said Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
People who do maintain their weight loss have some healthy habits in common.
“The first healthy habit of weight loss maintainers is that they lose their weight gradually, about one pound per week,” said Roberts.
People who have lost weight and kept it off have had success with a low calorie, low fat diet. Fat has nine calories per gram but protein and carbohydrate have only 4 calories per gram. It is possible to eat more food for the same calories when you eat more protein and carbohydrates.
To lose one pound of weight per week, Roberts says a person must consume 500 less calories or burn 500 more calories per day than normal.
“People who maintain their weight loss also eat at about the same time every day and they stick to the same basic foods in their diet. They also eat breakfast,” said Roberts.
Breakfast eaters are less likely to be overweight. Research shows that people who eat breakfast tend to eat less throughout the day than people who don’t. They also take in less total dietary fat. Breakfast eaters consume more fiber. Fiber helps you to feel full longer which is very important for someone decreasing their intake.
“Regular monitoring weight is important for people who have lost a significant amount of body weight,” said Roberts.
An important part of keeping weigh off is to monitor weight closely on a weekly if not daily basis and immediately lose gained pounds.
“Physical activity is another important part of weight loss as well as weight loss maintenance,” said Roberts.
To maintain a weight loss, it is recommended that a person exercises at a moderate level for 60-90 minutes per day. Both aerobic and strength training exercises that increase your heart rate are recommended.
“Some people say that it is easier to lose the weight than to maintain the weight loss. Practicing these healthy habits can help assure success for you,” said Roberts.