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Encouragement

Sunset

For every difficult thing faced in life, because of my faith in God, I believe good can come. And, I’ve personally experienced good in my life. That doesn’t mean that being in the midst of difficulty isn’t hard or doesn’t stink-that’s just not real nor honest. I’ve thought about some good things we’re experiencing now in the midst of this virus. Families are spending more time together (even though that can also be challenging); technology allows people to stay connected and for distance teaching, meetings, worship services; there may be an increased appreciation of gathering together face to face when we’re allowed in larger groups again; there’s a surge of creativity and innovation in recreating/renovating business and in helping others; and, we may be tired of technology desiring more face to face interactions in the future!

This week I heard the term ‘physical distancing’. That sounds much better to me than ‘social distancing’. One good thing about technology is the ability to keep in touch. We can’t control many things that appear to be crashing around us, and we are all making choices as a result. One choice, in the midst of ‘physical distancing’ I’d encourage us to consider, is to continue being social in reaching out to family, friends, neighbors. That could be through various technologies or writing letters, sending gift boxes, etc.  I believe we were created to live in community, not isolation. So please keep checking in with and reaching out to each other! There are also many resources for hope and help. No matter what you fear or face, you are never alone!-Jenny

#NebraskaStrong means having the strength to ask for help. Please keep talking and coming alongside each other!

  • Nebraska Farm Hotline/Rural Response Hotline: 800-464-0258
  • Nebraska Family Helpline: 888-866-8660

JenREES 2-24-19

Change. Sometimes it can motivate us to move forward and sometimes we can allowIMAG7539.jpg unwanted change to cripple us. The theme of the Women in Agriculture conference last week was “Taking Charge of Change”. There’s a number of changes we all face, especially for those involved with agriculture. Many are outside of our control yet we can control how we respond. We were challenged to write down 2-3 changes currently occurring in our lives and then what parts of those changes, if any, we had any control over. The first keynote speaker then built off of that in speaking on “Getting Clear on our Impact”. He was talking about life’s changes and our yearly goals. In clarifying impact around our goals, he mentioned three steps including: thinking long term, clarifying values/intentions, and optimizing for the starting line. The first two were pretty intuitive for me, but I wasn’t sure what he meant by the last one till explaining. In optimizing for the starting line, it’s about taking the first step. How many of us have made goals that have seemed too daunting to achieve such as fitness, nutrition, or other personal goals? He gave the example of a man who made the goal to run 5 miles every day for a year. Even though it’s measurable, it may not be achievable every day. He said the past three years, he made the goal each year to play his fiddle. He had been a fiddle player before having children but failed to even play once in spite of the goal. “Optimizing for the starting line” is about taking the first step. For the first man, it became simply putting on his running shoes. Once the shoes were on, it was the first step to any type of exercise. For himself, it was scheduling a time each day to only ‘pick up his fiddle’. Once he picked it up, it was the first step to begin playing again and he has been successful at playing since. The thought of this is so simple yet profound. It makes a lot of sense. In these cases, it can be change that’s positive by taking the first step, including in changing negative habits. It goes along the lines of other things we’ve heard such as “just making one’s bed” to complete one task, etc. For me, it will be to pick up a note card which is the first step to writing long-overdue thank yous and notes of encouragement. What first steps would allow you to achieve some of the goals you have in life or more positively help you deal with change occurring in your life right now?

Women’s Farmers & Ranchers College Program: Another opportunity for women in agriculture is upcoming on March 14. Michele Payn, founder of Cause Matter Corp., will be speaking to women on “Gate to Plate” at the next Farmers & Ranchers College. This informative and light-hearted program will start with registration at 6:00 p.m., a light meal and program to follow. The venue will be Lazy Horse Vineyard & Brewery near Ohiowa, NE or at 211 Road 20, Ohiowa, NE. This program is for women involved in agriculture to learn strategies for sharing their story of agriculture to today’s consumers. This program is free, however space is limited so please RSVP to 402-759-3712 or at go.unl.edu/farmersrancherscollege. Cause Matters Corp. focuses on addressing food myths, developing science communication, and connecting farm to food. In each of these core areas, Michele helps organizations clearly identify issues, understand their audience and grow solutions. Michele’s goal is to help you communicate “why your cause matters” – whether you’re a scientist, dietitian or in agribusiness. Michele’s resources and website can be found at http://causematters.com. For those of you on Twitter, Michele also founded the weekly #agchat conversation.

CropWatch  and BeefWatch Podcasts: Dr. Roger Elmore, Extension Cropping Systems Specialist joins Michael Sindelar, Extension Educator, to talk about Corn Planting and Early Growth Stages in this month’s CropWatch podcast. You can listen to it at: https://cropwatch.unl.edu/2019/cw-podcast-corn-planting-and-early-growth-stages. The monthly BeefWatch newsletter now has entire articles available via podcast. You can click here to subscribe if you’re interested: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch-podcast?platform=hootsuite.

Grain Marketing Workshop in David City: Are you getting the most profit out of your grain? A free Nebraska Extension Grain Marketing Workshop will help you build your own marketing plan for next year’s crops. The workshop will be 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 in David City at the Hruska Memorial Public Library, 399 Fifth St. Austin Duerfeldt, Nebraska Extension ag economist and extension educator, will lead the morning session on how to develop a grain marketing plan. In the afternoon participants will get to test two scenarios using the Marketing in a New Era simulator. MINE is a commodity simulation game designed to help producers develop and improve their commodity marketing skills. Also speaking will be Eric Erickson, Risk Management Consultant at Thrive Ag LLC. The workshop, workshop materials and lunch are free. Seating is limited to the first 20 registrants and please RSVP to: Melissa Bartels at melissa.bartels@unl.edu.

JenREES 1-6-19

It feels like a long time since I wrote! Being burned out, I wasn’t ready to reflect on 2018 in my previous column. Perhaps some of you felt that way too? There were plenty of challenges for agriculture in 2018. Grateful for breaks. Grateful for a new year! Grateful for good new hires in Extension to help with the work load throughout the State! As I reflect on the past several years, thank you for your support as I’ve done my best to cover a lot of counties to the best of my ability. Grateful for the opportunity to serve Nebraskans via Extension and to enjoy this work! And while it comes at the expense of our farmers, I’m grateful for the continual opportunity to learn with every new crop/pest problem. I know a few of you have wished these problems didn’t have to happen to you so I could learn! Yet I do appreciate the phone calls to work through situations with our farmers and ag industry professionals. While each year presents unique challenges, I’m always inspired by the resiliency of our farmers and those in the ag community. Looking forward to serving you in 2019!

Short Survey: In Extension, we always need to prove that what we do in our work brings value to those of you we serve. Would you please consider completing this short survey for me to provide feedback, specifically regarding my email newsletter, news column, any specific way I helped you last year, and ways I can improve in my Extension role in 2019? All feedback is anonymous. Please go to the following direct link: https://app2.sli.do/event/q2p1sedv/polls or you can also go to https://www.sli.do/ and enter the code 7708. Thank you for considering this!

York Ag Expo: Reminder of the York Ag Expo this week! Hoping to see many people come out to view the exhibits and also come to the educational sessions. I try to train people to RSVP for all my educational events, but walk-ins are always welcome. Chemigation is on January 9th from 9 a.m.-Noon with Steve Melvin. Then come out and hear the latest on the Farm Bill, Crop Insurance decisions, and Farm Taxes from 1-4 p.m. from Brad Lubben, Cory Walters, and Austin Duerfeldt. On January 10th, I will present private pesticide training from 9 a.m.-Noon. Then come out for residue and manure management from 1-4 p.m. with Mary Drewnoski, Michael Sindelar, Tim Mundorf, and myself. From 4-5 p.m. will be the keynote speaker Chad E. Colby. Agribusiness after-hours from 5-6 p.m. Ag appreciation lunch both days and all exhibitors and sponsors can be found at: https://yorkchamber.org/event/ag-expo/. Hope to see you there!

RUP Dicamba Training: On the Nebraska Department of Ag website, you will now see the list of UNL face-to-face trainings, the link to the UNL online dicamba training, and a list of certified applicators who have completed dicamba training. I took the online course on Friday so I could better answer questions. This year, it allows you to take one of two tracks: presentations by Dr. Bob Klein or Dr. Greg Kruger. You are also welcome to take both for more information. There are instructions with screenshots on the online dicamba training webpage: https://pested.unl.edu/dicamba-training-instructions. Some reminders regarding this, the applicator’s name and applicator ID number need to be listed when registering for the online course. Last year we had some wives complete the registration for husbands and then the wives were listed as certified and not the husbands. This year anyone applying RUP dicamba must complete approved RUP dicamba training and must also be a certified licensed pesticide applicator. Regarding face to face trainings, I am not having a dicamba training during the York AgExpo, but there are many options available that can be viewed on the NDA website. For that training, you will need to bring your certified applicator number. If you are a new pesticide applicator who hasn’t received a number yet, you will put ‘pending’.

York-Hamilton Cattlemen’s Banquet: The York-Hamilton County Cattlemen are planning their 71ST Annual Cattlemen’s Banquet for Tuesday January 29, 2019 at the Holthus Convention Center in York. Dave Thorell of Loomis, NE will be the featured entertainment. Dave Thorell is a regionally known speaker, avid agriculture advocate, humorist, story teller and was the voice of Agriculture News for over forty years on KRVN Radio.  Thorell was elected into the Nebraska Broadcaster Hall of Fame. The Cattlemen will also recognize Rich Pearson of Hordville and Allen Roehrs of Bradshaw as Honored Guests for the evening for their contributions to the area livestock industry and the Cattlemen’s Association. The evening starts at 6:30 with social time, a Prime Rib meal at 7:00 with entertainment and recognition of honored guests to follow. Cattlemen’s Banquet tickets are $25 per person. Sponsorships are also available that include two banquet tickets and recognition at the banquet for $150.  Cattlemen’s Banquet tickets can be purchased from any of the York-Hamilton County Cattlemen’s Directors including Brian Blase of Hordville; Brock Ekhoff and Terry Ross of Aurora; Jeff Underwood of Exeter; Allen Klute and Mark Klute of Hampton; David McDonald of Phillips, Jeff Meradith, Kim Regier and Josh Chrisman of York; Kim Siebert of Henderson, plus the Extension Offices in York County and Hamilton County.

Ag Reflections from 2014

Happy New Year!  Wishing all of you and your families a wonderful 2015!  As I look back at 2014, there are several ag-related observations that I noted throughout the year.

tornado damage in Sutton

Cleanup after the tornado in Sutton on Mother’s Day 2014.

The first observation continues to be the way communities and people in this County/area pull together in difficult times.  Whether after tornadoes/wind storms or helping other farm families who had an injured family member or had lost a family member, it’s just a blessing to see the way people pull together to help each other in time of need.  It was also a blessing for many who were unable to harvest in 2013 due to the August 1st storm, to harvest fields in 2014, and for many in the area to experience really good irrigated and dryland yields this year.

The dry winter of 2013/14 allowed for very mellow ground during planting time.  Often seeding depth ended up ½-1” deeper than intended.  The dry winter also didn’t allow for good residue decomposition leading to problems during planting and ensuing stand emergence.  Cutting off residue and high rains in May led to unintended consequences of replant situations when residue was moved off of farmers’ fields onto neighboring fields, suffocating emerged plants in portions of fields.  I’m not sure what the solution is for the future other than it really needs to be something worked out with neighboring farmers, but perhaps mentioning it here opens an opportunity for future conversations.

Cover crops have been incorporated into more operations in recent years, yet the ultimate goal for using them remains important in determining what species/crops are used in the fields.  We also realized the importance of determining amount grazed prior to turning cattle into fields (whether for grazing cover crops or crop residue), as high winds in winter 2013/14 in overgrazed fields led to soil blowing throughout the winter.

Systemic Goss Wilt Clay Co-Rees

Systemic Goss’ wilt showed up in some fields that were hail and/or frost damaged by V6.

The May frost showed us emerged soybeans at the cotyledon stage held up well to the frost compared to the corn.  We also again watched Goss’ wilt show up systemically by 6 leaf corn that was injured early by frost or hail in fields where Goss’ wilt had been a problem in the past.  We need more research/understanding of this disease.  Wheat continues to show us its resiliency as it winterkilled in portions of fields, withstood drought-stress, and then made up yield in the last 4-6 weeks.

Perfect pollination conditions coupled with high solar radiation, low night-time temperatures, and timely rain events were keys to the bountiful corn crop we experienced this year.  Soybeans were more of a mixed bag. In walking fields and in conversations with farmers, I think the disappointment in some irrigated yields could be attributed to early/over-irrigation, disease problems, and planting date.  UNL on-farm research showed on average a 3 bu/ac yield increase when soybeans were planted in late April to first week of May (regardless if growing season was warm/dry or cold/wet like it was this year) and those I’ve talked to who achieved 80+ bu/ac in the area this year planted in that time-frame.  I’m curious if there’s something to planting a 2.4-2.5 maturity early vs. a 3.0+ maturity early as some area producers are seeing strong yields from a shorter season hybrid planted early the past few years.  So if you’ve also seen this and/or are interested, that will be an on-farm research project to try next year.  Please let me know if you’re interested!

Here’s wishing you a healthy and prosperous 2015!

We Will Never Forget 9/11/01

 

In September 2013, I had the opportunity to visit the US Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania.  The Memorial is mostly a grassy field but also has a series of signs to explain the events on 9/11/2001.

In September 2013, I had the opportunity to visit the US Flight 93 Memorial in Pennsylvania. The Memorial is mostly a grassy field but also has a series of signs to explain the events on 9/11/2001.

2013-09-16 09.33.51

This sign shares the heroic efforts of those who fought back against the terrorists on the flight that day.

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May we never forget the lives lost in these terrorist attacks.

2013-09-16 09.42.31

A quiet place to reflect. US 93 would have flown toward us as we view this photo on the left side of the photo.

2013-09-16 09.51.26

The grassy field where US Flight 93 went down. In the distance (center of photo), there is a memorial rock which marks the spot of the crash.  Thirteen years later, we will never forget the innocent people, rescue workers, and all our men and women in uniform who lost their lives.

Reflections: After the Storm

It’s been an interesting few weeks.  Last week I was continuing to receive calls about considerations for drought damaged corn.  Then southern rust arrived in the area earlier last week.  Followed by the tremendous August 1 storm that affected so much of our County.

Numb…..

is how I’ve felt these past few days-and I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you whose crops were affected!  It’s just aSunset sickening feeling walking into field after field and driving around the County seeing the storm damage every day.  I’m so sorry for those of you who have lost your crops!  As I look at the crops, though, I’m a little puzzled at the way things are laying, the twisted plants….things aren’t all adding up for “straight-line winds”.

In spite of how difficult things look right now, I can’t help but wonder if we were spared from something much greater?

The follow passage in the Bible has been my go-to during times of drought and difficult times in farming.  I was going to share this in a drought post…but I feel it still applies with as many partial and total crop losses we’ve experienced in the area.

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Habukkuk 3:17-18

In the midst of trying to provide advice, it’s nice to know that God has everything already figured out and that He’s always in control.  Even in the midst of this, He is always good!

#Crop Update

While every growing season is unique and there’s an element of risk involved, this year seems to take the cake.  

Drought conditions have affected much of Nebraska.  In our area in south-central Nebraska particularly in our southern tier of counties, we’re seeing brown pastures and alfalfa that stopped growing.  Wheat was harvested nearly a month early and yields range from 0-50 bu/acre depending on if it was hit by the hail storm Memorial Day weekend which totaled it out.

I’m unsure how many planting dates we currently have in Clay County!  The spring planting season went so well with corn and many beans being planted in April.  Soybeans planted in April that haven’t received hail are forming a nice canopy.  Corn that hasn’t received  hail should be tasseling by beginning of July.  One Clay Co. field planted in March was only 3 leaves from tasseling when I took this picture this week and looks great (it’s probably 2 leaves by now!).  Adding another picture from a farmer friend Bob Huttes near Sprague, NE showing his field currently tasseled out and love the smiley face barn 🙂

But then there’s the hail damaged fields.  The hail pattern has been fairly similar all year for this area of the State with some producers receiving four consecutive hail events on their fields.  Every week of May was spent helping our producers determine replant decisions, particularly for soybeans…leaving irrigated stands of 85K and dryland stands of 60-65K when beans were smaller before stem bruising was so severe later.  We would leave a stand one week and end up needed to replant after the hail hit again the following week.  Some farmers got through the first two hail storms but the Memorial Day weekend storm did them in.  I never saw hail like where ground zero of this storm occurred.  After replanting after that weekend, they received yet another hail storm last week with the wonderful, much needed deluge of rain we received in the county.  My heart hurts for these farmers yet for the most part they have good attitudes and are making the most of it.  That’s the way farming is…lots of risk, thus an abundance of faith and prayer is necessary too.  One farmer I talked to has had hail on his house seven times this year (including prior to planting).

Pivots have also been running like crazy prior to the rain last Thursday night where we received 3.30-4.40 inches in the county.  Installing watermark sensors for irrigation scheduling, we were able to show the farmers that there was truly moisture deeper in the soil profile and attempted to convince them to hold off.  It’s a hard thing to hold off on water when the neighbors are irrigating, but several farmers who didn’t irrigate told me they were able to let the rain soak in and their plants weren’t leaning after that rain because the ground wasn’t saturated prior to the rain event.  

Future of Rural America

Sunsets over rolling hills of green pastures and straight corn rows.  Barely seeing above soybeans I was walking to remove weeds.  Attending a small school that provided an excellent education with opportunities to participate in a variety of activities to become more well-rounded.  These are a few of numerous memories of growing up on the farm and in a rural community that I hold dear.   While I enjoy hearing my grandparent’s stories of what life was like for them farming 60 years ago and even enjoy watching the Nebraska State Cornhusking Contests held each year, I also realize times have changed and don’t have a false sense of nostalgia about what rural means today.  While technological advances allow our farmers to produce more food for more people with less inputs and less water than ever before, what hasn’t changed about rural communities is the hard work ethic, dedication, risk, determination, and reliance on Faith and family to get through each year.   

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Rural Futures Conference held in Lincoln.  For me, it was the best conference I’ve attended; the energy and enthusiasm from 450 people gathering from a variety of backgrounds all to discuss the future of rural America was refreshing to say the least.  My favorite part of the conference was the first evening.  The key note speaker Joel Sartore, a Nebraska native who is also a National Geographic photographer, challenged us to maintain a positive attitude and to look for the opportunities that were available in our small towns.  For example, one town in Kansas was all about a certain sparrow where they would take people out on field trips to “listen”-they didn’t even get to “see” the sparrow-and people paid money for that!  There was also a town in Oklahoma where all they had was rattlesnakes…so they made the most of that too and created a huge attraction around snake handling, pics with snakes, snake skinning, etc. 

My favorite part of the conference occurred after that during the youth panel.  A panel discussion with Caleb Pollard, Executive Director of Valley Co. Economic Development in Ord, NE; Amanda Crook, Graduate Student; Anne Trumble, Executive Director of Emerging Terrain in Omaha; Jim McClurg, University of Nebraska Board of Regents; and University of Nebraska Med Center’s Bob Bartee answered questions moderated by Dr. Ronnie Green, IANR Vice Chancellor.  The young people struck a chord with me-most likely cause we were of similar age.  Some key take-away quotes:

  • Vibrant organizations identify strong leadership.
  • Failure can be a good thing as it can lead to the next innovation.
  • To go some place and change the trajectory of history is exciting!
  • We need to change the way we place young people into jobs….we don’t offer young people jobs; we offer them opportunities.

These young people were so excited about living in Nebraska!  Some of them had spent time elsewhere before choosing to move back to Nebraska and eventually choosing to find a small town to raise their families or have the rural way of life.  Another theme that emerged throughout the conference was the need to get young people involved in the local community such as youth representatives on city council, etc. even as early as when they’re in high school.  Some people think small town communities in Nebraska are dead…but that’s not necessarily the case.  It mostly depends on leadership-a strong leader will rally the town around an idea to grow it or create opportunities.  That’s what’s happening in Ord, NE with Caleb Pollard.  Another example comes from Fairfield Iowa.  Sometimes it just takes the right person to ignite a spark and help the rest of the town see the possibilities.  Nebraska has so much to offer!

Frans Johansson, author of The Medici Effect, was also a phenomenal speaker!  He spoke about creating breakthrough innovations by thinking outside the box and working at intersections of different disciplines/cultures, etc.  Key points I obtained from him include:

  • New ideas are combinations of existing ideas.
  • People who change the world try FAR more ideas.
  • Diverse teams can unleash an explosion of new ideas.
  • Find inspiration from fields/cultures other than our own.
  • Look for the smallest executable step-essentially don’t eat the elephant in one bite.
  • Stepping into intersections isn’t risky-it’s risky to do the same thing over and over again.

Maybe these aren’t earth-shattering new concepts, but good reminders for a task as large as creating a Rural Futures Institute…and frankly for anything in life.

There was much discussion about the role of a University/State/Community Colleges in trying to save rural communities…how is this done…how build partnerships and trust…how to provide incentives to faculty working in creative/innovative ways in a structured academic setting when it comes to promotion and tenure…and even if the University changed its incentives, how does that bode if a faculty member moved on to another University?  How are incentives provided to teams and excellent team work?  We are standing at the crossroads…maybe an intersection right now in academia which can shape the future of creatively rewarding innovative work while still maintaining needed structure in the promotion/tenure process.  I remain positive that we’ll find a way to work through this!

There were discussions in small groups regarding the meaning of rural.  What does it entail?  Often we think of agriculture-and I would argue that’s a strong part of rural-but it’s also much more…health care, infrastructure, industry, schools, broadband, etc.  Some were saying we need to use the term non-metro instead of rural in order to get away from the ag connotation.  Yet others felt the discussion was too focused away from agriculture on other components of rural and missing ag as a key component.  Needless to say, the entire conference provided interesting discussion, dialogue, and a chance to meet people from a variety of backgrounds.  It truly provided an opportunity to look for intersections with which to create innovative ideas for the future.

There was also the reality that hit during focused group conversations that there are also problems that need to be addressed in rural communities that weren’t touched on at this point: poverty; crime; infrastructure; food deserts; building trust and interfacing with university, college, and other partners, etc.  Overall it was a thought-provoking conference and has the feel that several small steps can be achieved in the coming year.  I would encourage you to check out the Web page and follow the Facebook page.  You can also check out the Twitter Conversation at #RFC2012.  This conference was also not just focused on Nebraska as the focus was the Great Plains and people from numerous states attended.  I’m looking forward to seeing the small executable steps that will occur in the future and am also looking forward to doing my part to maintain strong rural communities as I’d like to see the next generation enjoy the rural life and learn the values I did growing up!

April 1 Flowers-No Fooling!

April 1st, while typically a day of pranks and jokes, has one obvious truth.  Spring has arrived in full force with flowering plants at least 2-3 weeks earlier than normal.  I couldn’t believe that my lilacs, which typically bloom around mid-May were blooming for the first time today!  I planted many of the bulbs and shrubs last fall and have been rewarded with beauty, color, and lovely smells via God’s creation this spring; enjoy the pics!

Spring!

Happy Belated Spring!  I meant to get this posted earlier this week but just didn’t get it done.  I love living in Nebraska and being able to observe God’s creation via the changes in seasons!  Spring and Fall are probably my favorite, but there’s beauty in all of them.  Everything is 2-3 weeks early this year so will be interesting to see if we end up with March going out like a lion or if we end up with an Easter freeze like we did a few years ago.  While it wasn’t a bad winter, I always enjoy seeing new life and green in the springtime! 

Grass greening up in front lawn.  Sending this pic out to my husband who has seen grass very little in 9.5 months in Afghanistan!  Will look forward to you helping me mow when you return! : )

My favorite tree is the magnolia and someday I hope to have one!  I always enjoy going to UNL East Campus in the spring and seeing the magnolias in bloom.  However, I was surprised how quickly they bloomed this year and that they were already loosing their blossoms!

Through the leaf mulch even my iris and daylillies are emerging.  I haven’t removed mulch yet in the event we end up with a cold snap.  It’s still early, though tempting!

Great resources from UNL regarding horticulture and turf:  http://byf.unl.edu/ and http://turf.unl.edu/.

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