Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How to Remove Odors Caused by Spoiled Food in a Refrigerator

Many of us have experienced the unpleasant consequences caused by food that has spoiled in a refrigerator or freezer that shuts off because of a power failure.  Jenna Anding, a food and nutrition expert with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, offers these suggestions for eliminating refrigerator odors:
·         Unplug the appliance and remove all spoiled food.  If you are not sure whether or not the food is spoiled, throw it out anyway.
·          Remove shelves, crispers, bins and ice trays and wash thoroughly with hot water and dish detergent.  Afterwards, rinse the unit with a sanitizing solution made by mixing 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water.
·         Wash the inside of the refrigerator with hot water and baking soda then rinse with the sanitizing solution.  Leave the refrigerator or freezer door open for at least 15 minutes so air can circulate freely.  If the odors are strong, you may need to leave the unit open longer.
If odors remain, you can try one or all of the following:
·         Wipe the inside out with a solution made of equal parts of water and vinegar. Leave the door open for several days so it can air out.
·         Stuff the refrigerator and/or freezer with rolled newspapers. Close the door and leave it alone for several days.  Then, remove the paper and clean with a solution of vinegar and water.
·           Use materials that absorb moisture and odors.  These materials include activated charcoal, baking soda, or fresh ground coffee).  Place the material in a shallow pan in the bottom of the unit and let the refrigerator run for a few days until the odors disappear.
If the odor gets into the freezer’s insulation, contact the manufacturer for suggestions on solving the problem.  However, at that point, there may not be anything one can do to eliminate the odor.  That’s when you have to consider more unpleasantness the purchase of a new appliance.
If the refrigerator or freezer needs to be thrown out, be sure to do it in a safe manner. “Childproof” the unit so children cannot get trapped inside.  This can be done by taking the doors off, locking them shut with a padlock or removing the latch completely so the door won’t lock if it is closed. 
For more information, contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Backyard Basics Workshop to Focus on Jamming

An abundance of home grown fruits and vegetables often triggers the desire to can foods at home.  While this can be a fun and rewarding way to keep foods long after the season ends, care must be taken to assure that foods canned at home are safe to eat.

Not all recipes for home canning have been tested for safety. Sources of tested recipes include the National Center for Home Food Preservation (http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/), USDA, and manufacturers of home canning equipment and supplies.  Recipes from cookbooks, outdated Extension publications and the Internet should not be used. There are many other aspects to canning that one needs to consider, including water bath or pressure canner, appropriate recipe, jar size, headspace, and recommended processing (canning) times. 

Wise County area residents who are interested in learning how to process their own jams and jellies are invited to attend a Backyard Basics workshop on Wednesday, July 15 from 1:00-3:30pm hosted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office of Wise County.  Cost for the workshop is $20 per person. The boiling water bath method as well as freezer preservation will be presented.  To register, please call 940-627-3341. Space is limited.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Importance of Fathers

Father’s Day is Sunday, June 21, 2015.  You may say why should there be a day set aside for fathers?  After all they didn’t go through nine months of pregnancy, then labor and delivery and to top it all off, moms usually get the raw end of the deal with diaper changes, runny noses and the like. However, most of us know fathers who really do pull their weight in the parenting department.

In honor of all fathers, this week’s article will focus on the importance of a father and how he plays a critical role in the development of children. Children need fathers who love and care for them on a consistent basis. 

Here are just a few current trends that would indicate their importance. The latest research indicates that fathers who are actively involved in raising their children can make a positive and lasting difference in their lives. In contrast, research reveals a number of potentially negative outcomes for children whose fathers are not involved. Children who grow up with absent fathers are at greater risks for poverty, school failure, child abuse, suicide, criminal behavior, emotional and behavioral problems, early sexual activity, and drug and alcohol abuse. These risks diminish substantially when children grow up with an active and loving father in the home.

The latest research indicates that kids who grow up with warm, nurturing and actively involved fathers:

                     do better in school
                     have higher self-esteem
                     build better relationships with other kids
                     develop healthier ideas of how they should behave as adults
                     grow into more successful adults       
          Fathers can have a powerful impact on their children’s success in school. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Education, when fathers took an active role in their children’s education (like attending school meetings, volunteering in school) the kids were more likely to make A’s, participate in activities like sports and clubs, and enjoy school, and they were less likely to repeat a grade.

A child’s potential for success in school starts long before he or she walks into a classroom. An easy activity fathers can do with their young child, which is consistently linked with better school performance, is reading. Why is reading so good for kids? Educators believe that reading and storytelling stimulate children’s imaginations, enhance their vocabularies and help them learn about the world around them. It is also an activity that is very child-centered and creates warm and positive interaction between parents and children.

            Fathers! I encourage you to be a hero by reading with your children on a regular basis and they will reap the benefits that last a lifetime!

Happy Fathers Day!  You do deserve a day set aside just to honor you and recognize the positive impact you make on our children.

            For additional information concerning the importance of reading to children or to obtain a recommended reading list for young children, contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, Wise County office at 627-3341.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Clover Kid Camp

Clover Kid Camp is just around the corner. Make sure to call the office and get your Clover Kid signed up!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Grass Tetany in Beef Cattle: Prevention and Treatment

Grass tetany is a highly fatal disease associated with low levels of magnesium in the blood.  Grass tetany can affect all classes of cattle but older cows with calves at side during winter and spring are most at risk. Very thin and overly fat animals are also more susceptible. Calves, yearlings and replacement heifers rarely develop grass tetany because they can more easily access body stores of magnesium.

Grass tetany – causes:
Cattle hold magnesium in the bones and muscles but cannot readily access and utilize these stores when needed. The animal constantly loses magnesium in urine, feces and milk, so it needs magnesium in its diet to meet daily requirements.  A cow in peak lactation (6–8 weeks following calving) needs a constant source of magnesium to replace the large amount lost from the body in milk. Even when feed levels of magnesium are low, the loss of magnesium in the milk remains the same.  Low magnesium in the blood of an animal can be caused by low magnesium levels in feed and/or reduced magnesium absorption.
Contributing causes are:

·         Magnesium levels are lower in cool season grasses and small grain forages than in legumes or weeds.
·         Levels are low in grasses grown on leached acid sandy soils.
·         Levels are low when potash and nitrogen fertilizers are used and growth is vigorous.
·         High moisture content in grass causing rapid gut transit and low uptake.
·         Reduced absorption of magnesium resulting from high rumen potassium and nitrogen and low rumen sodium.
·         Low energy intake, fasting or sudden changes in feed.
·         Bad weather, especially winter storms.
·         Low roughage intake (young grasses have low roughage and often poor palatability).
·         Low intake of phosphorus and salt.
Animals suffering from grass tetany are often found dead. There may be marks on the ground beside the animal indicating they were leg paddling before death (lying on their side with stiff outstretched legs that thrash backwards and forwards).  Early signs include some excitability with muscle twitching, an exaggerated awareness and a stiff gait. Animals may appear aggressive and may progress through galloping, bellowing and then staggering.  In less severe cases the only signs may be a change in the character of the animal and difficulty in handling.

Treatment of affected cattle:
Blood magnesium levels must be restored.  Veterinary administration of an intravenous calcium and magnesium solution produces best results.  However, in acute cases where time is critical, producers can inject a calcium and magnesium solution under the skin.  Producers should also provide oral sources of magnesium to affected herds to prevent relapses. These include:
·         Magnesium oxide in loose mineral supplements.
·         Molasses blocks or tubs with elevate levels of Magnesium.
·         Slow-release boluses.
·         Magnesium sulphate or soluble magnesium chloride added to hay or silage.
·         Adding magnesium to concentrates or pellets.
These products are available from your veterinarian, feed supplier or rural supplies company.  Please note that trying to increase magnesium intake through mineral or feed supplementation can be difficult and can actually be detrimental in some situations.  If magnesium levels are elevated too high in the supplement it will actually limit or stop consumption of these products.

Prevention and control:
·         Provide a magnesium supplement to cattle that provide elevated levels of magnesium at least 2 weeks prior to grazing lush or suspect pastures and forages and certainly prior to parturition and the start of lactation.
·         Eliminate factors which reduce magnesium absorption through pasture and grazing management.
·         Provide supplemental roughage in advance of grazing lush pasture.
Immediate actions:
·         Increase energy and roughage intake. Good quality hay is suitable.
·         Pellets or grain can be added if introduced carefully and cattle are accustomed to these.
·         Provide salt if a natural source is not available.
·         Move lactating cows (especially older animals) to high dry matter pastures if available.
·         Reduce stress factors (if corralled do it in a very low stress manner, limit transportation if at all possible).
·         Provide magnesium supplements (see below).
Long term actions:
·         Correct soil acidity with lime or dolomite (dolomite contains some magnesium).
·         Plant clovers if adaptable species will grow in your environment.
·         Apply phosphate fertilizer.
·         Limit potash and nitrogen applications until soil acidity is corrected.
·         Keep good records to inform future management.
For problem pastures, consider forage analysis (primarily the leaves) for magnesium and potassium. Consult your veterinarian for further advice.

Diseases similar to grass tetany:
Accurate diagnosis of grass tetany by a veterinarian is important because a number of significant diseases have similar signs. These include:
·         Staggers caused by perennial rye and annual ryegrass toxicity.
·         Nitrate/nitrite poisoning (also seen on young, rapidly growing heavily fertilized grasses and cereals).
·         Lead poisoning – usually from discarded batteries.
·         Locally occurring viruses and bacteria.
How a veterinarian can help:
If cases of grass tetany have been confirmed in the area, work with your veterinarian and be prepared to provide immediate intervention if cattle are found with symptoms of grass tetany.  Work with the veterinarian to develop a management plan to prevent the onset of grass tetany within the herd.  A veterinarian will be able to investigate whether grass tetany or another disease is occurring. Producers who detect signs of grass tetany in their stock, or notice any other unusual signs, should contact their private veterinarian.