Friday, March 10, 2017

Celebrate Health with Wise County Health Fair

As you mark your calendars for the many activities taking place this spring, I would like to encourage you to make plans to attend the Wise County Health Fair scheduled for Saturday, March 25 from 8:30 am to 12:00pm at the Decatur Civic Center. The Health Fair is sponsored by United Way and is promoting a healthier Wise County through community awareness and education.
An added feature this year will be interactive educational workshops in the Chisholm Trail Suites: 9-9:20am-Self Defense Education; 9:30-9:50am-Zumba Class; and 11:00-11:20 am a Stir Fry Recipe Demonstration with give-a-ways that will equip you with ingredients to prepare the recipe at home.
Another modified feature is Fit Fun for Everyone, a Fitness Celebration which will include Fitness stations set up by local Fitness Facilities, individuals, and student groups. Registration begins at 9:30 am in front of the Civic Center with the first 50 participants to receive a t-shirt.  There are many additional prizes for participants visiting the fitness stations.  Adults and children are encouraged to participate from 10-11am.  This event is free.
There are many other free opportunities as well.  You will want to take advantage of numerous free health screenings. Several popular activities are returning such as: Drunk Driving Simulator; and Face painting; child fingerprinting by the Wise County Sheriff’s office  Participants will be able to take part in plant pals offered by Wise County 4-H; and the Carter Blood Care unit returns. 
Entry forms for booths/displays/activities space are available via the United Way website at You may also contact the Extension office at 940/627-3341 for additional information.

Weed Control in Turf

            In lawns and sports fields, weeds are often the result of poor quality turf, rather than the cause of poor turf.  The aggressive nature of weeds and their prolific reproductive capacity enable them to invade thin, weak turf areas.  Cultural practices should always be viewed as the first step to effective weed control.  Always determine why weeds established a foothold and correct those deficiencies.  If the basic problem is not corrected, weeds will continue to occur.  An effective weed-control program also requires identification of the undesirable species as to its classification as a grassy weed, a broadleaf weed, an annual, or a perennial.  Most turf weeds belong to two principal categories – grasses and broadleaf plants.  Chemical controls for these two categories of plants frequently differ. 
            Grassy weeds have jointed, hollow stems; leaf blades have veins parallel to leaf margins, and are several times longer than they are wide; roots are fibrous and multi-branching; and flowers are usually inconspicuous.  In contrast, broadleaved plants often have showy flowers; leaves have a network of veins at diverse angles to one another; stems are often pithy; and a taproot is usually present.  Another group of turf weeds, sedges, have grasslike characteristics, but require a different group of chemicals for control.  Sedges are characterized by three-sided stems (triangular cross-section) which bear leaves in three directions (in contrast to the two-ranked arrangement of grass leaves).
            Weeds can be further grouped according to their life span – annual or perennial.   From the standpoint of chemical control, the grouping is most important, because pre-emergent herbicides are only effective for control of annual weeds.  Annual weeds germinate from seed each year, mature in one growing season, and die in less than 12 months.  Crabgrass and henbit are examples of annual weeds – crabgrass being a summer annual and henbit being a winter annual.  Pre-emergent herbicides must be applied according to the expected date of emergence for each targeted species. 
            Perennial weeds live more than one year, and recover or regrow from dormant stolons, rhizomes, or tubers as well as from seed.  Control of perennial weeds requires a post-emergent herbicide during its season of active growth.  Products such as Portrait, Amaze and Dimension are available locally and need watering in order to activate.  
            Effective chemical weed control requires identification of the weeds as to their Classification (grass, broadleaf, sedge, etc.), life span (annual or perennial), and season of active growth (cool season or warm season).  Effective chemical control also requires accurate timing of applications, proper rate of application, and uniformity of application.  Always follow label directions for a product, and observe all warnings and precautions relative to safety of the application.  Herbicide labels should be carefully reviewed for additional details on specific uses of each product.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Responding to Stress

According to the American Psychiatric Association “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.
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.
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 pent up tension, sleep better, and burn up some of the chemicals that are released with the bodily response to stress. So another good reason to dust off those walking shoes, form your team of eight and join us for Walk Across Texas beginning March 6- April 30! Online registration is available by logging on to Also, feel free to contact the Wise County Extension Office at 940.627.3341.
And, one last tip; try laughing more. Research suggests that laughter really is the best medicine. The experience of laughter can increase our physical, mental and emotional well-being. The benefits of laughter can be documented when we consider how laughter serves to safeguard our health, to increase our ability to problem solve and to help us with difficult events or situations.
For more information, contact Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Wise County at 940/627-3341.

Treating Calves for Parasites

           Over the past 20-35 years trials in Texas beef herds have demonstrated that treating nursing calves and the dams for internal parasites increases weaning weights. Most of the trials were conducted in spring calving herds in Central Texas. Various wormers were used including Dectomax, Safe-Guard and Ivomec and treatments were administered to calves and dams.  Treated and untreated pairs were pastured together. Treatments were usually given in May, June or July when the average weights of groups of calves ranged from 200 to 350 pounds.
           Many trials have been conducted over the years concluding that weaning weights of treated calves averaged 25 pounds over the untreated calves.
          Researchers at Texas A&M agree that there is no need to perform fecal counts to decide whether to deworm nursing calves. They will be parasitized and they will benefit from being treated.
            The bottom line is the relationship of benefit to cost. The average benefit is the income from the 25 extra pounds of production and the cost is the sum of the expense of working the cattle plus the wormer costs.  Wormers can cost as little as $2 per head up to $4 per head. With the high prices of today’s calves, deworming should bring an additional profit of $ 25-30 per calf at weaning.
           Deworming nursing beef calves is highly profitable for Texas producers, but fewer than 10 percent currently use the practice.
             Deciding to deworm or not to deworm nursing calves is easy. Don’t worry about whether your neighbor’s calves are infected with gastrointestinal parasites. They are! Deworming will increase profits.

Killing Ourselves with Convenience

Approximately 55 percent of the U.S. population is overweight or obese. Maintaining a normal weight requires a balance between calories taken in and used for energy. Previous generations ate a lot more calories, but they worked a lot harder. They walked many places whereas today we drive even short distances.  Instead of working in the fields, we sit at our computers.  On our way home, we stop for fast food and spend an average of three or more hours watching television in the evening.
Too many calories and too much sitting are strongly linked to weight gain. A recent study found that our children are gaining weight too for the same reasons.  Overweight parents tend to have overweight children.  Overweight people are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, some types of cancer, and joint problems related to arthritis. Can this trend be reversed?
The answer is yes, but if you have tried to lose weight and increase your activity level, you know changing is not easy. Eating high caloric foods and sitting in front of the television is much easier.
Changing eating and activity patterns requires effort and planning. Spend time learning about whether or not you need to lose weight and if you can safely begin an activity program.  Learn about your options.  Just because you have tried before and not been successful does not mean you cannot be successful this time.
Losing weight and increasing activity does not mean you have to suffer or spend a lot of money for special foods, pills, books, or equipment.  People who went from an average weight of 210 to an average of 145 pounds and maintained their loss for an average of 5½ years attributed their success to controlling calorie intake, limiting portion sizes, eating five meals each day, never skipping meals, eating out no more than three times each week with only one of those times at a fast food restaurant, and using up about 2,700 calories a week in physical activity beyond that required for daily activities like gardening or housecleaning.  A majority of these 629 successful losers in the National Weight Control Registry said they had been overweight since childhood or had a family history of obesity.  Getting started is hard.  Programs claiming quick weight loss with little or no effort tend to help remove little more than your dollars.
If you and your family, friends, co-workers, or church group wants to get started on the road to better health, call the Wise County Extension office at 940/627-3341 to learn about Walk Across Texas.  Walk Across Texas can help you start walking and/or losing weight. The program is free and can be an important step towards better health for you and your entire family.