Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Positive Family Communications

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

I was out of the office much of last week on a family emergency as my dad had some riskier heart procedures done.  My mom and all my brothers were together for a couple days leading up to the surgery and then I spent a couple additional days with mom as dad began the recovery process.  This whole experience has made it very clear to me that we as a family hadn’t been communicating nearly as often or as well as we could be.  So, this week, let’s talk about positive family communications.  This applies more to families with grown children this week and gives some different examples.

First, let’s look at what is termed the “wheel network.”  Some families have one person who is the center of communication.  Often this is the mother however it can be any central family member who is viewed as the “center” of family communication.  This network looks like a wheel.  Communication lines go from the person at the center to each family member.  The mother controls the messages and can adapt them as needed with each family member.  I used this last week to get information out about my Dad’s condition while I was at the hospital.
There is also a “chain network.”  Other families may use a style that resembles a long chain.  Here one person is in charge at the top giving messages to the next person down the line.  This person then gives it to the next person down and so on.  In busy families, this type of communication may be needed.  The problem is it is very “top down.” Only the second person in the chain hears the complete message.  This could be similar to playing the game “telephone” that many of us may have played in grade school.

Many stepfamilies use a “Y” type communication.  The children are at the top of the “Y” and the biological parent in the middle.  The stepparent is at the bottom of the “Y.”  Messages to the children are given through the biological parent.  This network may be useful as the members work to become a new family. 
Messages in all these networks discussed previously are filtered through one person.  Sometimes this is needed.  It may help reduce family conflict.  The problem is that it could also produce misunderstandings.  The person who sent the message does not talk directly to all those who receive it.

A fourth network style is the “all-channel” network.  In this setting, each family member talks directly with each other.  There is no filtering of information.  This style is used more when children are older.  The information does not get distorted with this style; however, it is not as effective when information needs to get to everyone quickly.

Technology has changed how we communicate with family members.  Families with good communication use a mix of communication networks.  That is because each type of network can be useful in a specific situation.  What is important is that all family members have an opportunity to be heard and to be included.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Tips to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Recently I saw an article on my NewsFeed of a young man who had been sleeping in a camper trailer and was suspected of dying from carbon monoxide poisoning.  It reminded me of a similar situation more locally of a young man who died of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning while night calving and staying in a camper trailer with a propane heater.  The Center for Disease Control reports that from 1999 – 2010, there were an average of 430 deaths per year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning in the U.S.  and more than 20,000 Americans go to the ER each year because of carbon monoxide poisoning.  With carbon monoxide poisoning often being related to malfunctioning or improperly used fuel-burning appliances, I thought with our current weather it would be fitting to talk a bit about carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas that cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted.  It is produced when fuels such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, charcoal or coal burn.  Sources for carbon monoxide in the house could be operating a BBQ grill in an enclosed area, an improperly installed or faulty gas clothes dryer, furnace, or water heater, an improperly installed or faulty gas oven, range, or cooktop vent, an unvented space heater, a clogged or blocked chimney opening, etc. 

Carbon monoxide enters the lungs and bloodstreams where it binds to hemoglobin 200 times easier than oxygen does, displacing the oxygen in the bloodstream.  Symptoms from carbon monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for the flu as they include headache, nausea, dizziness, confusion, and fainting.  At high levels, unconsciousness and death can occur, and if someone is asleep they may never wake up to know they have the symptoms of the poisoning. 

Winter snows can increase potential danger from carbon monoxide poisoning as snows can create drifts that block furnace and dryer exhaust vents forcing the gas back into the homes.  If you are visiting a cabin that has been snowed in, make sure to check the vents and exhaust pipes and chimneys before entering the house.  If using a space heater, they should only be used when someone is awake and there definitely needs to be airflow in and out of the room where they are located.  If using an emergency generator, they should be at least 20 feet from windows and doors and not used in a garage or basement.

Lastly, battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on each floor of your home and near every sleeping area in your home and the detectors should be checked regularly to be sure they are functioning properly.  If you will be staying in a camper, cabin, etc., make sure those have carbon monoxide alarms as well.  In addition, make sure to never leave a vehicle running inside a garage or use gasoline-powered engines indoors or near windows either. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Gardening in the Late Winter or How to Start Seeds Indoors!

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

One thing that I noticed just the other day, and you probably have too, is that seed packets are appearing in stores and catalogs are, of course, appearing in our mail.  So, what if you are getting the urge to begin gardening already and want to do something about it?  How about starting seeds indoors?  I have some tips for you!
Starting seeds indoors is about as much fun as a gardener can have in late winter!  The idea is to grow transplants or starts for 2-8 weeks (depending on the vegetable and rate of plant growth) and then plant them outdoors where the crops will mature and be harvested.  That in and of itself might be a reason for us to hold off on starting seeds this time of year, unless you have a small greenhouse that you can continue growing them in. 

Growing seedlings indoors for our gardens is something to
consider in the late winter months.  Photo courtesy of
Clemson University Extension.
A common mistake is to sow seeds too early and then attempt to hold the seedlings back under poor light or improper temperature ranges.  This can result in tall, weak, spindly plants that do not perform well in the garden.  Sow tomatoes 6-7 weeks before you expect to plant.  You will end up with stocky 8-10 in. tall plants.  If they do get too tall, you can lay them down in a trench when planting and turn the growing tip up so only the top 2-3 sets of leaves is above the soil.
Start seeds in small, individual containers.  It's best to use divided containers with a single seedling per container because otherwise the seedlings' roots will grow into each other and are likely to be injured later during transplanting.  Exceptions to this rule are onions and leeks from seed.  Most plastic seed-starting containers are reusable, but may harbor plant pathogens once used.  Sterilize used containers by soaking the cleaned cups in a solution of bleach or other disinfectant for 30 minutes, then rinse and use.

A windowsill is not a good location for starting seeds.  If you're starting only a few plants and have roomy windowsills, a south-facing window may be all the growing space you need.  However, window sills can be the coldest place in the house, especially at night, and then the hottest during the day.  It's much better to grow seedlings under fluorescent lights than to rely solely on natural light, even in a greenhouse.  Some brands of lights are sold as "grow lights," designed to provide light in specific ranges required by plants, but standard fixtures with two "cool white" fluorescent tubes per fixture also give plants adequate light and are inexpensive.
There is much, much more information out there about starting your garden from seed, but I hope I have whet your appetite a little bit with these few tips.  Please contact your local county Extension office to learn more about starting garden plants indoors.

Remember that M.S.U. Extension is there for you.  Good luck with the rest of your week.  This has been Jesse Fulbright from the Liberty County Extension office with your Tuesday Extension Minute.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Are You Prepared to Weather an Emergency?

Jesse Fulbright, MSU Liberty County Extension

Illustration courtesy of Sacramento County DHHS.
Yesterday, as school was cancelled here in Chester and as several of us toiled to clear the driveway and then as I walked to work I had some thoughts pertaining to survival without services.  We are extremely blessed here in Montana, especially when you hear about other areas of the country when hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and flooding arise.  However, after the winter we’ve seen and especially the snow we saw yesterday, I realized that a person would be wise to have the necessary supplies on hand in case they had to stay put in their home for an extended period of time without services such as electricity or heat.

According to an Oregon State University Extension publication, there are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first-aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items.  Store them in an easy-to-carry container such as a large, covered trash can, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag.  Keep your kit in a convenient place known to all family members; keep a smaller version of the kit in the trunk of your car.
Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles.  Avoid using containers that will decompose or break such as milk cartons or glass bottles.  A normally active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts of water each day.  Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount.  Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.  Store 1 gallon of water per person per day.  Keep at least a 3-day supply of water per person (2 quarts for drinking, 2 quarts for each person for food preparation/sanitation).

Store at least a 3-day supply of nonperishable food.  Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water.  If you must heat food, include a can of portable cooking fuel such as Sterno.  Select items that are compact and lightweight such as ready to eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables, canned juices and the staples such as salt, sugar and other spices.  In a time of stress, you might want to consider comfort foods as well.
There are many, many other things that you might want to consider having on hand, such as the necessary first aid supplies, tools and supplies, clothing and bedding, sanitation supplies such as toilet paper and garbage sacks and any other special items for health-related reasons.

Lastly, if you do need to leave your home quickly for any reason, I would encourage you to have a 72-hour kit ready to throw in your vehicle or over your shoulder.  This kit, or backpack needs to be easy enough for each person to carry their own set of supplies, yet have enough supplies to help you through a three-day period.  While all this might seem like a lot of work now, it will pay dividends if an emergency ever does come into your life.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Pre-Calving Preparations

Kari Lewis
With this week’s snowstorm and calving on the horizon, I’ve been thinking calving preparations.  I
know many folks are already underway, with lots more to start in the next month or so.  Today I’ll share some reminders of things to check on before calving starts.

·         Clean, well bedded pens - If you have a calving shed you will potentially be using, make sure the pens are cleaned with fresh straw.  Having clean pens to calve in is crucial to reducing disease transmission and giving calves a healthier start to their life. 
·         For the potential calving problems, locate and clean the calf chains and calf puller, and make sure you have gloves, obstetrical lube, disinfectant, buckets, halters, and ropes handy.  Along these lines, having the number for the vet in your phone or somewhere easy to find is also a good idea!
·         Lighting - Do you have enough flashlights in good working order, and are outside flood lights in good condition, and are there replacement bulbs around if needed?
·         For the calf that is slow to start nursing or for the twin that is bound to come, do you have a tube feeder, milk bottle, colostrum replacer, and fresh milk replacer on hand?  If you have leftover supplies from last year, check the expiration date to see if you need to update your inventory.
o   When purchasing colostrum replacer, make sure it is a replacer, and not a colostrum supplement.  Colostrum supplements do not contain sufficient quantities of antibodies to raise the blood immunoglobin level in calves beyond what average quality colostrum will do. Colostrum replacers contains greater levels of immunoglobins and other nutrients and provides an effective, convenient method of providing passive immunity to calves when maternal colostrum is not available.
·         For identification - do you have enough ear tags and markers ready?  Do you have a calving book available to record calves born in?  If not, your local Extension office may still have a few of the IRM red books available.
·         Check your facilities.  Are pens, alleys, and head catches in working order?  Do you need to move panels around or set up additional pens?  Do gates swing when they should and have a working chain to latch for when they shouldn’t swing? 
·         Wind protection - Are there boards in your windbreaks that need to be replaced?  Are calf shelters in good condition?  A clean, dry environment will go a long ways towards creating calving success.  A windbreak can even be as simple as stacking straw bales in a pasture to allow cattle a place to get out of the wind.
·         For moving calves, if you use a calf sled, is it located and is it clean?
·         Do you have a plan for warming up chilled calves?  If you have a calf warmer, is it in working condition?  Is the needed extension cord with it? 

The challenges that comes with trying to find equipment when it’s cold and calves are on the way only adds to the frustration.  I hope you’ll take some time now to help have a successful and organized calving season!