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Features

  • It is the time of year for skunks and I am reminded because of the smell and road kill left behind. Plus, a strong scent of skunk has been lingering in the pasture this past week; and I got an Instagram video from my niece as she was clearly backing away from a lumbering black and white rodent down by the river.  We used to get them circling the house on winter evenings, but our livestock guardian dog has kept them at bay the last few years.  Their presence is not surprising, however, because it is mating season for skunks and they are on the move.

  • The Kentucky Department of Wildlife Resources recently launched a canoeing and kayaking page on its website at www.fw.ky.gov. Visitors need only to click on the “Boat” tab, then the “Canoeing and Kayaking” tab.

    The page provides a repository for valuable information about paddling creeks, rivers and lakes across Kentucky.    

  • Even though it’s winter, it’s not too early to start thinking about summer camp or summer jobs. 4-H has a way to combine both. Kentucky 4-H is now hiring 44 energetic staff members for its four summer residential camps.

  • With the number of acres allotted to grow industrial hemp nearly tripling in 2017, this could be the year the crop challenges Kentucky’s reputation as the Bluegrass State.

    The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has approved 209 applications from growers who have been approved to cultivate up to 12,800 acres of industrial hemp for research purposes in 2017, nearly three times the number of acres that were approved for the previous year. More than 525,000 square feet of greenhouse space were approved for indoor growers in 2017.

  • I have learned to be discerning when it comes to catalog shopping.  I steer clear of outrageous or cheap deals.  I prefer the specialty catalog where expertise reigns, providing us with both a good product and the information to grow it well.  

  • State education leaders say that nearly 50,000 students graduate from high school each year and too many are unprepared for today’s jobs, without a path to acquiring skills they need.

    On Wednesday, Stephen Pruitt, Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education, happily announced a three-year effort aimed at strengthening technical and career education for the state’s public high school students, fueled by a $2 million grant from JPMorgan Chase, in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers.

  • Members of the Five Counties Friends of NRA recently attended the annual Kentucky Friends of NRA workshop, and fund committee meeting. Chair Tony Wheatley and Treasurer Larry Mott  represented the local Friends of NRA Committee. At the workshop, the state Friends of NRA were recognized for their huge success in 2016. First, they were awarded the Friends of NRA’s  “Kentucky Breakout Award” which recognizes those committees that have broken out of their usual efforts by reaching an extraordinary result.

  • University of Kentucky agricultural meteorologist Matt Dixon explained that the combination of cold air and winds create dangerous and emergency-category periods of livestock cold stress.

    Livestock producers should make sure animals have adequate shelter, water, dry bedding and feed to make it through cold spells. Pet owners should bring pets indoors. UK livestock specialists said animals have a higher requirement for energy in the colder months, so producers should have high-quality grains and forages on hand to meet their needs.

  • There is something about working in the garden on a sunny winter day:  it clears debris from both the perennial bed and the gardener’s head.   There is clarity to the winter landscape that is quite different than any other season.  On a clear day, the sky is a true blue, you can see all the birds flitting about the leafless trees.  

  • Amid concern over antibiotic resistance and in an effort to improve efficiency while protecting human and animal health, the Food and Drug Administration is making changes in its Veterinary Feed Directive program. They are amending regulations regarding drugs added to livestock feeds; the new rules are effective Jan. 1.

  • The Office of the State Climatologist and the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, in coordination with the Kentucky Drought Mitigation Team, are removing the Level One Drought Declaration that was issued for much of the state on Nov. 10.

    Following this weekend’s abundant precipitation, all of the state is above normal for precipitation for the past 30 days.

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  • Live gifts during the holiday season are welcomed by gardeners…a poinsettia or two, a rosemary topiary, cyclamen, African violets and orchids give us something to fuss over during the winter months.  But, sometimes our homes can be a hostile environment for many of the most popular indoor flowering plants.  

  • Snow and bitter cold sent shivers across the nation in recent days, and experts are urging all dog and cat owners to protect their pets from the freezing temperatures.

     Pets can suffer from frostbite and hypothermia just as humans can, say veterinarians who treat dogs and cats all winter long for winter-related injuries.
     
    “If it feels cold to you, it’s probably cold to your indoor cat or dog,” said Dr. Will Fischbach, a senior clinician in emergency medicine.

  • Amassing a good set of gardening tools usually takes a while and the holiday season, with various traditions of gift giving, is a perfect time to help gardeners achieve that goal.  Good tools don’t come cheap, but if you buy right the first time the investment pays off in the life of the tool and the efficiency of the job.  The right tool often means less time spent on tackling the chore.  

  • The 2017 Kentucky Fruit and Vegetable Conference will have something of interest for all fruit and vegetable producers. The event runs from 8 a.m. EST Jan. 9 until 5 p.m. Jan. 10 at Lexington’s Embassy Suites Hotel.

    Preconference activities on Jan. 8 will include tree fruit, small fruit and vegetable roundtable discussions as well as a plasticulture strawberry short course.

  • December has ushered in some seasonal weather with daytime temperatures hovering in the forties.  For us this is perfect winter weather to work in.  Brisk, but not too cold, it can be invigorating for animals and people alike.  The sheep and the big dogs seem to prefer it, in fact.  The playful frolicking is proof. The clear blue sky on a chilly winter day can be even more beautiful with a little winter plant interest.

  • Now that we are in December, everyone’s thoughts turn toward the holidays.  Each year, I like to pass along the following tips and information about the most popular plant of the holiday season, the poinsettia.

    Traditional red and green colors are well represented in the flowers available for the holidays. Poinsettias, the most popular and spectacular holiday flowers, can combine both these colors.

  • Last Sunday I felt like I was under siege! There were starlings everywhere; so much so that I feared being splattered with poop at every turn.  The surprising thing about starlings is that they are everywhere, yet not from here.  It’s another story of one good intention going bad. Apparently, back in 1890, in honor of a Shakespeare festival in New York City’s Central Park, sixty European starlings were released.  The following year another forty were released and today the bird is one of the most numerous species in North America.  

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    Lilli Hanik, of Fisherville, received the Gold Honors Award at 4-H Teen Conference this past June at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.  She is the daughter of John and Kim Hanik and is a Senior at Spencer County High School. Lilli was selected, through an application and interview process, as one of the delegates that represented Kentucky at the National 4-H Congress November 25 – November 29 in Atlanta, Georgia.