Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Early Weed Control

Early weed control in pastures may be one big key to pasture recovery and acceptable forage production this spring.  We have had a pretty good fall and winter rains for soil moisture to carry us to spring green up. Thousands of acres of Wise County range and pasture support excessive cover of weeds and brush due to over grazing that use valuable water and reduce grass production.  The result of overgrazing will result in increased soil erosion. These noxious plants must be managed effectively for pastures to reach their production potential. Use of herbicides provides an effective and efficient alternative for controlling weeds to improve pastures and maintain them in a highly productive condition.

Some herbicides provide a high degree of control of certain species; however, seldom is a species eradicated. Consider other potential rangeland uses when developing a brush management program. Many trees, shrubs and forbs are valuable as food and cover for wildlife and may be an important component in livestock diets. Therefore, a brush management program should provide for use of control methods that give optimum benefits to livestock and wildlife.

Herbicide application may increase palatability of poisonous plants. Thus, they are more likely to be consumed by livestock. To prevent losses to toxic plants, herbicide-treated areas with poisonous plants present should not be grazed until the toxic plants dry up and lose their palatability.

Properly used herbicides are effective and safe. Misuse can result in poor brush and weed control and possible hazards associated with herbicidal drift, dangerous residues, or killing desirable plants. Listed below are points to follow for proper herbicide use:

·         Identify the weed or brush species and evaluate the need for control.
·         Consider expected benefits, costs and alternative control practices.
·         Select and purchase the suggested herbicide for the weed or brush species.
·          Read and follow herbicide label directions for allowable uses, application
       rates and special handling or mixing requirements.
·          Provide and require the use of proper safety equipment.
·            Calibrate spray equipment.
·            Mix herbicides in a ventilated area, preferably outside.
·            Spray under conditions that prevent drift to susceptible crops.
·            Apply the herbicides at the suggested rate and time.
·            Keep a record of the herbicide used, the time required to spray, weather
conditions, rate of herbicide in carrier, date, location and the person using
the herbicide.
The sprayer used must apply the correct quantity of herbicide mixture to a specific area. To calibrate spray equipment, see Extension publication L-5465, “Weed Busters: Sprayer Calibration Guide.”

Suggested herbicides must be registered and labeled for use by the Environmental
Protection Agency. Because the status of herbicide label clearance is subject to change, be certain that the herbicide is currently labeled for the intended use.

The user is always responsible for the effects of herbicide residue on his livestock and crops, as well as for problems that could arise from drift or movement of the herbicide from his property to that of others. Always read and follow carefully the instructions on the container label.

For more information contact the Wise County Texas AgriLife Extension office at 940-627-3341

Monday, January 26, 2015

Staying on Track with Healthy Eating

Meat serves as one of the main sources of protein in the diets of many Americans, and choosing lean meats helps you boost your protein intake healthfully. Pork tenderloin is a great lean-meat option, providing a lower-fat alternative to other cuts. Consume pork tenderloin, and you'll introduce more vitamins, minerals and other nutrients into your diet. 
Need to get dinner on the table? Here's a flavorful new twist on chili from the University California Extension at Berkeley. The green in this traditional Southwestern recipe comes from a delicious and potent combination of scallions, chilies, jalapeño and cilantro.

Green Pork Chili
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (4½ ounces) chopped mild green chilies
  • 2 canned or bottled jalapeño peppers, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) hominy, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1. In a nonstick Dutch oven or flameproof casserole, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate.
2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the scallions and garlic and cook until the scallions are tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the mild green chilies and jalapeños, and cook 1 minute.
3. Return the pork to the pan. Add the coriander, oregano, and salt, stirring to coat. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the hominy and ¼ cup of the cilantro. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the pork is tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Stir in the remaining ¼ cup cilantro and the lime juice just before serving.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition per serving: 270 calories, 9g total fat (2g saturated), 74mg cholesterol, 5g dietary fiber, 20g carbohydrate, 26g protein, 710mg sodium.
A good source of: niacin, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, zinc.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Responding to Stress

We are just a few weeks into 2015 and I am already hearing comments about being “stressed out”.  I hope you can take a few minutes to read information from the American Psychiatric Association which states that “one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress. Stress is taking a toll on people – contributing to health problems, poor relationships, and lost productivity at work.”  Some short-term stress can be positive – causing us to deal constructively with daily problems or meet challenges or deadlines. But, when stress remains long-term – chronically or continuously – it can be damaging both emotionally and physically.
What can be done about stress in our lives? First, identify what is causing the stress. Consider whether your stressors are:
  • major or minor (e.g., lost keys or lost job),
  • temporary or permanent (e.g., giving a speech or a poor marriage relationship),
  • relational (e.g., uncomfortable living situation or stressful work relationship), or
  • internal (e.g., unrealistic expectations, or low self-esteem or self criticism).
Once you identify the cause(s), it may be easier to choose strategies to help alleviate the stress. Below are four approaches that may help.
When you need to deal with stress on the spot, try these strategies: count to 10 before you speak; take 3-5 slow, deep breaths; go for a walk; say “I’m sorry” if you make a mistake; and begin the day by breaking bigger problems down into smaller ones.
The healthier you are, the better able you are to manage stress. Try to get 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Exercise not only helps you get in shape, but it also helps you relieve tension, sleep better, and burn up some of the chemicals that are released with the bodily response to stress. It is also important to get enough sleep (about 8 hours each night). 
Eat a healthy diet which includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as choosing lean meats and eating less refined sugar, processed foods, and saturated fats.
Have a healthy attitude.  Most people who are resilient to stress do two important things: they focus on immediate issues – what needs to be done right now, and they have an optimistic explanatory style – assuming their troubles are temporary (“I’m tired today”) rather than permanent (“I’m washed up”); specific (“I have a bad habit”) rather than universal (“I’m a bad person”). Find enjoyment in life. Doing things you enjoy is a natural way to fight stress. Try to find one thing to do each day that you enjoy – even if it’s just for 15 minutes.
Left alone, stress can be bad for both your physical and mental health. The time and energy you spend managing your stress will pay off in the long run.

For more information, contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Wise County at 940/627-3341.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fast Food with Slow Cookers

To make this cold weather a little more bearable for those of us who are warm weather minded, I hope you are utilizing your favorite soup/stew recipes.  A good solution for individuals who are time-restricted, nutrition-conscious, and budget-minded is the slow cooker.
For the most part, all one has to do is place the ingredients in the slow cooker, plug it in, and turn it on. However if important food safety recommendations are ignored, food prepared in a slow cooker could cause a foodborne illness. The Food Safety and Inspection Service offers the following tips for safe slow cooking:
·         Always start with a clean hands, cooker, utensils and work area.
·         Refrigerate perishable foods until preparation time. You can chop meat and vegetables in advance, but they must be stored separately in covered containers in the refrigerator.
·         Use only thawed meat or poultry.
·         Do not place large pieces of meat, otherwise, the food will cook so slowly that it could stay in the danger zone too long (for bacterial growth).
·         Fill the cooker between 1/2 and 2/3 full. Root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes cook slower than meat or poultry so place them on the bottom, add the meat, and then cover with liquid.
·         Don’t peek! Every time the lid is removed, it can take 20 minutes to regain the lost heat.
·      If you are not home during the entire slow-cooking process and the power goes out, throw out the food, even if it looks done!

Following is an easy, slow cooker recipe

Slow Cooker Pork Cacciatore

1 can (14.5 ounces) diced garlic and olive oil tomatoes, undrained
1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
1 package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
Italian seasoning, to taste
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
2 cups multi-grain penne pasta, cooked
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1 cup 2% milk shredded Mozzarella cheese

Mix tomatoes and tomato paste in slow cooker until well blended. Stir in vegetables and add
Italian seasoning. Cut meat into 8 pieces. Add to slow cooker; cover with lid. Cook low 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

Cook pasta as directed on package, omitting salt. When meat is cooked, transfer to plate reserving sauce in slow cooker. Cover meat to keep warm. Mix cornstarch and water until well blended. Add to sauce; stir. Cover and cook for 6-8 minutes.

Drain pasta; spoon onto plate. Top with meat, sauce and cheese.

For additional information on slow cooking contact Tanya Davis at the Wise County Extension office:
940 627-3341.