Recommended Remedies

Recommended RemediesAll animal owners should keep something on hand to treat wounds.  After some experimentation, we have settled on two favorites.

The first remedy is an aerosol spray that comes in a couple of varieties.  Wound-Kote by Farnam and Blu-Kote by Dr. Naylor both seem to work equally well.  This is a purple spray typically sold for horses, cattle, and dogs, but it works great on chickens, as well.  The manufacturer does not recommend using it on cats, however.

Recommended RemediesWound-Kote or Blu-Kote can be sprayed onto any wound, large or small, to promote healing and prevent infection.  Just reapply whenever the purple color wears off.

Two cautions: First, it will not absolutely safeguard an injured chicken from cannibalism.  If a chicken is severely injured, it should be isolated from the rest of the flock until it heals.  Second, both Wound-Kote and Blu-Kote stain anything they touch, so don’t get any of the spray on your clothes.

Recommended RemediesThe second remedy that comes in handy is Corona Ointment.  This is not quite as effective for superficial wounds because it can easily be smeared off.  It is great, however, for those times when your animals need something a little more like a lotion.  For example, it can soothe chapped, calloused elbows on the dogs, and it can help a chicken with blowout onto the road to recovery.

Corona Ointment is labelled for both large and small animals.  It comes in either a tube or a jar.  The tube is much cleaner and easier to deal with.

You can find any of these items at a variety of farm supply stores, online and otherwise, as well as at Amazon.  Be aware that prices change periodically.

Greater White-Fronted Goose

Greater White-Fronted GooseThe Greater White-Fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) is named for the strip of white feathers surrounding its pink bill.  Overall, however, it is mostly dark gray-brown with black barring and speckling on its belly, earning it the name “speckle-belly”.  Its tail is black with contrasting white tail coverts.  This is the only eastern goose with bright orange legs.

In flight, notice the Greater White-Fronted Goose’s steady wing beats and black primary feathers.

The immature Greater White-Fronted Goose lacks the hallmark white front and speckled belly.  Otherwise, however, it is fairly similar to the adult.

 

Best Field Marks

  • White feathers around bill.
  • Speckled belly.
  • Orange legs.

 

Greater White-Fronted GooseVoice

Greater White-Fronted Geese are particularly vocal, and they have unusually high-pitched calls.  A laughing yodel is their most well-known sound.  They also honk, grunt, and murmur, an aggressive sound known as the gang-gang call.

 

Distribution & Occurrence

The Greater White-Fronted Goose is a migrant and winter resident across Kansas, but is most common in the central portion of the state.  It usually arrives in October at marshes and lakes with nearby grain fields.  This makes wetlands like Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge prime destinations for the species.

Once at their winter quarters, Greater White-Fronted Geese will stick around until all of the water is frozen, and then return after a thaw.  They leave Kansas in March to breed in Alaska and northern Canada.  Any birds found in Kansas in the summer months are typically sick or injured.

 

Greater White-Fronted GooseBehavior

Nonbreeding Greater White-Fronted Geese are quite gregarious.  They congregate in large flocks, talk to each other incessantly, and even mingle with other geese species, such as the Canada Goose.

Another interesting characteristic of Greater White-Fronted Geese is their ability to walk well on land.  In fact, they rarely spend time on the water except at night and when dabbling for roots.  During they day they can be found foraging the fields for grass and young wheat.

 

Greater White-Fronted GooseAttracting

Birdwatchers are not likely to be able or even interested in attracting Greater White-Fronted Geese to their backyards.

Hunters attract Greater White-Fronted Geese with decoys and by imitating the yodeling and grunting calls.

 

Similar Species

Juvenile Dark Morph Snow Goose
The adult Greater White-Fronted Goose can sometimes be confused with the blue variation of the juvenile Snow Goose.  Note, however, that the Greater White-Fronted Goose is distinguished by the three field marks listed above.  Juvenile blue Snow Geese have dark legs, lack barring on the belly, and have a more suffused light area around the bill.

 

Helpful Resource

Greater White-Fronted Goose
Photos, audio, and more information from Cornell’s All About Birds site.

 

Complete Series

Geese & Swans of KansasGeese & Swans of Kansas

 

3 Tasty Salads…Without Lettuce!

3 Tasty Salads...Without Lettuce!When some of us think of salads, the first thing that comes to mind is a big bowl of lettuce with dressing on top.

But when you’re growing your own vegetables, it doesn’t have to be that way.  As a matter of fact, when the hot summer weather comes around, your lettuce will probably be ready to retire.  That’s when you can branch out a little and try a salad without lettuce.

3 Tasty Salads...Without Lettuce!
Kohlrabi

In order of earliest to latest in the growing season, here are three family favorites:

  1. Easy Radish Salad
    There simply isn’t a better way to eat radishes.  This recipe may give you an incentive to grow a few more next year!
  2. Kohlrabi Slaw
    Kohlrabi is much easier to grow than cabbage.  To prepare these green orbs for dinner, twist off the leaves and cut off the roots.  Then use a knife to peel away the tough outer skin.  Shred in a food processor and substitute for cabbage in your favorite coleslaw recipe.  It’s that simple!
  3. Cucumber Salad
    Slice up those homegrown cukes and onions, and add some freshly diced tomato if you have some.  Toss with cider vinegar, a little olive oil, and some of your favorite salad dressing for flavor.

None of these ideas are set in stone, of course.  Use them as starting points for finding creative ways to use the produce from your garden.  Before long, you’ll find your own family favorites to make year after year.

What is a Life List?

What is a Life List?In birdwatching parlance, a life list is simply a list of all of the birds a person has seen in his life.

Of course, different people have different reasons for watching and keeping records of wild birds, and life lists tend to reflect these various purposes. For example, someone with only a casual interest might jot down a date and species name whenever he spots a new bird out of the window or on a trip to the local zoo. A serious birder will probably keep more detailed records and count only birds that he has seen in the wild.

There are three main methods of keeping life lists:

  1. Using the checklists typically provided in field guides.
  2. Keeping track of the life list with a birdwatching journal.
  3. Entering the life list into a spreadsheet or other computer program.

Then there are the innumerable focuses a life list can have. Besides recording all of the birds that you have seen in your life, you can keep more specialized lists:

  • Annual.
  • Monthly.
  • Nesting birds only.
  • Statewide.
  • By county.
  • For a favorite state park.
  • Around your house.
  • On a trip.

Of course, each birdwatcher will want to experiment and find the method that works for him individually.

Some birders can be quite competitive with their life lists, traveling great distances to add new species. But most people just keep life lists for interest’s sake. A life list can be a great way to recall the thrill of seeing that gorgeous or uncommon bird for the very first time. Sometimes a simple check mark can become associated with a vivid mental picture of a favorite birdwatching memory.

 

Helpful Resource

Kansas County Checklist Project
Download a complete checklist of Kansas birds, or scroll down to see a checklist tailored to your county.

Alfalfa Production Handbook

Alfalfa Production HandbookIf you plan to grow alfalfa in Kansas, K-State has just the guide you need.  The Alfalfa Production Handbook is available online for download as a free PDF.

Topics include:

  • Choosing a variety.
  • Planting times and methods.
  • Stand renovation.
  • Nutrient needs.
  • Irrigation.
  • Common pests and diseases.
  • Cutting and storing hay.
  • Harvesting alfalfa with livestock.

Alfalfa producers will also appreciate the tables at the back, which estimate costs and profits for different parts of Kansas, making it easy for growers to compare alfalfa to other field crops.  Space is included for your own calculations, as well.

Valuable information is concisely packed into these 36 pages.  While you may decide not to follow the instructions to the letter, K-State’s Alfalfa Production Handbook is an excellent place to start if you are new to raising alfalfa.

White Park

White ParkTradition tells us that wild white cattle have wandered over the British Isles since the days of the ancient tribes. White cattle were long revered by the Druids and were frequently used for sacrifices. When the Romans invaded the British Isles, the Druids fled to the remote regions of Ireland, Scotland, and northern Britain, taking their sacred cattle with them.

During this period of chaos, the white cattle were scattered and formed new herds which roamed the forests for centuries. They eventually became favorite game animals for the kings of England. When the forests were emparked to restrict hunting privileges to the nobility, the white cattle received their name: White Park.

The aristocrats of England eventually discovered that the cattle living on their parks and estates had uses other than making trophies. Some of the White Parks were tamed, and their milk and beef supplied the tables of many nobles.

After their usefulness was discovered, the White Park herds were handed down for generations and thus became part of the English heritage. The British took great pains to preserve them as World War II approached, with its possible threat of Nazi invasion. Four White Parks were sent to a zoo in Toronto in 1938, and some of their offspring were distributed to the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and the New York Zoological Society in the Bronx.

But the Bronx Zoo was not really interested in keeping domestic cattle on a regular basis. In 1942 they sold their White Parks to the Texas-based King Ranch, where the herd remained for nearly 40 years. The King Ranch kept herd numbers low, usually just a bull and up to 15 cows with calves. Around 1980, a White Park bull was unavailable, so a black Texas Longhorn bull was introduced into the herd instead.

About this time, the King Ranch was selling many of its cattle, and the White Park herd went to the Moeckley family of Iowa in 1981. They worked to preserve this rare breed, starting by culling the obvious descendants of the Texas Longhorn bull. In the late 1980s, however, they dispersed the herd to a handful of owners interested in continuing the project.

White Park numbers have steadily increased in the United States since then. Although conservation efforts are still ongoing, small herds can be found around the country.

White ParkUses

The White Park is currently being promoted as a grassfed beef breed. It can, however, still produce milk on a small to moderate scale.

Temperament

White Park cattle have retained much of their natural intelligence over the centuries. They form strong bonds with each other, fiercely protect their calves, and approach unfamiliar situations with extreme caution. To keep them docile, owners must handle them carefully and considerately.

The bulls of this breed are typically quite a handful.

Health

The natural resilience of the ancient White Park has not been lost with time. This breed can stay healthy with minimal intervention.

White ParkPros

  • Hardiness.
  • Adaptability to most climates.
  • Low maintenance requirements.
  • Ability to thrive on rough forage without supplemental feed.
  • Longevity.
  • Excellent fertility.
  • Easy calving.
  • Calf vigor.
  • Very strong mothering instinct.
  • Moderate milk production.
  • Exceptionally tasty, tender beef on grass alone.
  • Lean meat.
  • Good hybrid vigor when crossed.

Cons

  • Scarcity.
  • Difficult temperament for beginners.
  • Milk production unsuitable for commercial purposes.
  • Slow growth.
  • Poor prices at sale barns.
Helpful Resource

Choosing a Breed of CattleChoosing a Breed of Cattle
Is the White Park right for you? This book will help you assess your five needs and make that decision. Includes a brief profile of the White Park breed. Free sample pages are available here.

Complete Series

Cattle BreedsCattle Breeds

 

What Caused the Dust Bowl?

What Caused the Dust Bowl?Drought caused the Dust Bowl, right? Well, yes, but there’s a little more to the story.

We must remember that history is not a simple case of cause and effect, but rather a vast tangled web of innumerable causes and effects. This means that we probably will never have all the answers to the question of the Dust Bowl. We can, however, examine the possibilities.

What follows is a discussion of only a few of the coinciding events that might have contributed to the Dust Bowl. Hopefully this will whet your appetite for further investigation.

 

Solar Cycles

The effect of solar cycles on weather is not fully understood at the present time. However, people have been charting solar cycles since 1755 and weather conditions for even longer than that, and many are convinced that there is a correlation between the two phenomena.

The ins and outs of the debate over climate and solar cycles are beyond the scope of this post. Suffice it to say that the Dust Bowl began around 1930 or 1931, depending on where you lived, and ended between 1936 and 1940. The solar minimum (period of least solar activity) occurred in 1933, while the solar maximum (period of most solar activity) appears to have been around 1936 or 1937.

Note that the Dust Bowl began as solar activity approached a low and ended about the time solar activity reached a peak (making allowance for regional variation). Coincidence? Hard to say. Some scientists believe that during periods of low solar activity, aerosol particles build up in the earth’s atmosphere, instead of being dispersed by solar ejections. These particles in turn become condensation nuclei for clouds. Clouds with large numbers of condensation nuclei tend to produce less precipitation.

What Caused the Dust Bowl?
Photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

The Plow

Much of the Great Plains was settled by the time the Dust Bowl came around. Even areas with low annual precipitation levels had been occupied by farmers, thanks to quite a bit of propaganda.

During the settlement period, land speculator Charles Dana Wilber coined the phrase, “Rain follows the plow,” summarizing an opinion that was very popular in his time. No one was exactly sure why rain might follow the plow. Some people suggested that plowing released soil moisture into the atmosphere and produced rain. Others proposed that the accompanying railroads with their smoke and cold metal rails would lead to more condensation and higher humidity. Still others more than hinted that rainfall was proof of God’s blessing on the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. In any case, plowing was considered to be beneficial to the climate.

In the early 1900s, a plethora of books were published advocating “dry farming” techniques, methods which the authors assured their readers would make the desert blossom like a rose. The prevailing theory at the time was that, since capillarity pulled moisture out of the ground, anything that would tend to break up capillary action would aid the soil in retaining moisture. Farmers were encouraged to plow the soil thoroughly and to leave a dust mulch when cultivating.

As farmers found out, however, loose dirt tends to blow around. “Rain follows the plow” is now considered an obsolete theory, and dust mulches have given way to no-till farming.

 

Were There Other Causes?

Dust Bowl

Of course, the two possible causes of the Dust Bowl mentioned above are just the beginning. Other theories have been proposed:

  • NASA models suggest that ocean temperatures might have shifted the jet stream and thus altered precipitation patterns.
  • World War I had given rise to the motto, “Food will win the war,” a philosophy that encouraged farmers to leave less land in grass and plant more to crops.
  • Soil conservation was not something most farmers even thought of at that point in American history.
  • The Agricultural Adjustment Act encouraged some farmers to plow crops under, leaving land fallow and susceptible to erosion in such places as hard-hit Oklahoma. The act was not passed until 1933, so its primary effect would have been to worsen the Dust Bowl, rather than directly cause it.

Further investigation would probably bring new possibilities to light.

It behooves us, therefore, to recognize that we don’t have all the answers about the Dust Bowl. Instead, we should continue to pursue the facts, examining events that occurred before and during the Dust Bowl to see if we can uncover any causes that the textbooks have forgotten. History is a gold mine of connections.

 

Helpful Resource

Farming the Dust BowlFarming the Dust Bowl
This first-hand account of life in the Dust Bowl includes some theory about why it started. Read our full review.

The Prayers of the Righteous

The Prayers of the RighteousThe book of James is so rich, isn’t it?

One particularly beautiful nugget of truth is found in the second half of chapter 5, verse 16:

The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Short and sweet, but it touches the heart.

Unfortunately, we are sometimes tempted to use this verse as an excuse not to pray.  We think to ourselves, “Well, I’m not particularly righteous.  Why bother?”

Needless to say, this is not at all what James had in mind.

What is it that makes a man righteous?  Philippians 3:8, 9 has the answer:

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith….

Notice that Paul did not claim to be righteous all on his own.  His righteousness was from God.

Then who is the righteous man, the one who can pray effectively?  The one who received his righteousness from God through faith in Christ.

This is the secret to powerful prayer.