Category: December 2019

Christmas Plants Brighten the Holiday

Christmas plants such as poinsettias, holiday cactus, and amaryllis bulbs are a fun way to bring some color to the winter months. They like a bright, sunny location in your home and regular watering. With proper care these plants can be kept from year to year for lasting value. For help picking out the perfect poinsettia watch this YouTube Video:

By: Cassie Homan

Farm Financial Skills for Kansas Women in Agriculture

We recognize the financial stress that farmers and ranchers are experiencing due to low commodity prices and high input costs. More than ever, financial management of the operation is critical to long-term sustainability.

The Post Rock District, in collaboration with a state-wide team, is bringing a great learning opportunity to the region! “Farm Financial Skills for Kansas Women in Agriculture” is a 4-part workshop series that will teach principles of record keeping to develop a balance sheet, income statement and a cash flow statement. Participants will work with a case farm to do performance analysis and understand how these statements can help with management decisions. The program will be a combination of broadcasted keynote speakers, local speakers, and facilitators to assist in completing the hands-on activities. The goal is for participants to acquire financial management skills they can apply directly to their farming or ranching operations.

Smith Center will be a host location for the program scheduled to take place in the evenings on January 15, January 22, January 29, and February 5. Registration is due by December 31, 2019. To learn more about this exciting learning experience and to register, visit Contact Sandra Wick, District Crop Production Agent, with questions at 785-282-6823.

By: Nora Rhoades

Save the Date: Regional Farmers’ Market Workshop

Join us in Beloit on February 28, 2020 to find answers to your questions about selling goods, sales tax, and food safety, for all types of products. Cost to attend the workshop will be $20, which includes lunch.

Scale Certification – FREE: Vendors can bring their sales scale to the workshop to get certified for free, which is a $40 value.

For more information, please visit:

Online registration will be made available in the January Knowledge to Action Newsletter.

By: Ashley Svaty

Ice Melt Damaging Plants

There are five main materials that are used as chemical de-icers: calcium chloride, sodium chloride (table salt), potassium chloride, urea, and calcium magnesium acetate.

Calcium chloride is the traditional ice-melting product. Though it will melt ice to about -25 degrees F, it will form slippery, slimy surfaces on concrete and other hard surfaces. Plants are not likely to be harmed unless excessive amounts are used.

Rock salt is sodium chloride and is the least expensive material available. It is effective to approximately 12 degrees F, but can damage soils, plants and metals. Potassium chloride can also cause serious plant injury when washed or splashed on foliage. Both calcium chloride and potassium chloride can damage roots of plants.

Urea (carbonyl diamide) is a fertilizer that is sometimes used to melt ice. Though it is only about 10% as corrosive as sodium chloride, it can contaminate ground and surface water with nitrates. Urea is effective to about 21 degrees F.

Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA), a newer product, is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid (the principal compound of vinegar). CMA works differently than the other materials in that it does not form a brine-like salt but rather helps prevent snow particles from sticking to each other or the road surface. It has little effect on plant growth or concrete surfaces.

Limited use of any of these products should cause little injury. Problems accumulate when they are used excessively and there is not adequate rainfall to wash or leach the material from the area. Since limited use is recommended it is best to remove the ice and snow by hand when possible. When they are applied, practice moderation. Resist the temptation to over apply just to make sure the ice and snow melts. Keep in mind this can damage concrete surfaces as well as the plants and grass growing along the walks and driveways. These problems are normally latent and do not show up until spring or summer.

By: Cassie Homan

Are the Holidays Causing You Stress?

Stress enters our lives in many shapes and forms. Appropriate stress is healthy and useful – and can even help one rise to the challenge and face tough situations with strength and stamina. Stress can also be overwhelming and cause distress – such as anxiety, tension or irritability.

We’ve been talking a lot about dealing with stress throughout the holiday season on Post Rock Extension’s Facebook, Twitter, and Blog. Nora Rhoades, District Family and Youth Development Agent, provides a wealth of information to better understand how stressors impact individuals, and teaches practical strategies that can be helpful with managing stress. Here’s some tips:

  • Set expectations – Talk to your family, children, friends, and co-workers about expectations during the holidays. Be open with them if money is an issue. Use this as an opportunity to teach youth about the value of money and responsible spending. Be realistic. Take small steps to deal with holiday tasks instead of overwhelming yourself with goals that are too far reaching.
  • Keep things in perspective – Try to consider stressful situations in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective. Avoid blowing events out of proportion. Model how to keep things in perspective, including what type and the number of gifts to give and receive.
  • Make connections – Good relationships with family and friends are important. View the holidays as a time to reconnect with people. Volunteering is a good way to connect with others. Remember that accepting help and support from those who care about you can help decrease the impact of stressors.
  • Take care of yourself – Pay attention to your own needs and feelings during the holiday season. Engage in activities you enjoy and find relaxing. Evaluate your calendar and commitments to ensure you do something you enjoy each day. Taking care of yourself helps keep your mind and body healthy and primed to deal with stressful situations.
  • Cut back on device use – Instead of dialing into a gadget, go for a walk or play a board game with a friend. This promotes activity and distances you from sluggish time and possible influence from media which may not align with your expectations and values.
  • Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness helps calm the body and quiet the mind. Especially during busy seasons like the holidays, it is important to practice focused breathing and other self-soothing activities. Experiencing the joy of the season will be much easier when you slow down, stop, and pay attention to the wonder of the moment around you.

By: Nora Rhoades

Outsmart Those Cravings

We all crave certain foods from time to time, especially around the holidays! The psychology behind cravings show that hormones, memories and other triggers create a sensory signal of craving a food. This intensifies with hunger or dieting.

So how can you outsmart these cravings? Here are some tips.

  • Take a walk! Some sort of physical activity can redirect your craving, thus putting mind over matter.
  • Your nose picks up on food odors, so try smelling a nonfood, such as a scented candle, to redirect your brain.
  • You’ve heard the saying, “my eyes were bigger than my stomach.” So keep healthful snacks in your vision.
  • Do you crave sweets? Grab naturally sweet fruit to curb that craving.
  • Many holiday celebrations are about comfort food. Enjoy in moderation, smaller portions, or do a healthier makeover to classic recipes.


By: Ashley Svaty