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On the Fence - February 2018

On the Fence, Acreage Insights for February 2018. http://communityenvironment.unl.edu/fence-february-2018
On the Fence, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights for February 5, 2018, http://communityenvironment.unl.edu/fence-february-2018

February 2018

February marks one year of sharing my thoughts with you through On The Fence. Thank you to anyone who actually reads this. I'm writing this month's article from home on Monday, January 22, otherwise known as the day a blizzard shut down much of Nebraska.

The Blizzard Begins
I went into the office this morning to get a few things done I needed to do there, then planned to head home around noon when it sounded like it was going to get bad. Well, an hour later I decided I better head for home if I was going to get there. All the time I'm asking myself, who thought living in the country was such a great idea?

On the Fence, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights for February 5, 2018, http://communityenvironment.unl.edu/fence-february-2018

Will We Lose Electricity?I waded through the 6-8 inches of wet snow around my house as I made sure the pets and birds have feed and water. I think about how all of this is going to need scooped because it is too wet and would only clog up my old snow blower. Then there's the 3/8 mile of my driveway that will have to be cleared if I want to get out whenever it quits snowing. All the time I'm asking myself, who thought living in the country was such a great idea?

My wife is fretting that we don't have enough fire wood close to the house in case we lose electricity. (We have plenty… and if we didn't, I never really liked that coffee table anyway.) I think about my lucky friends in town. The worst they will have to deal with is scooping out the end of their driveway when the snowplow comes by to clean their street. All the time I'm asking myself, who thought living in the country was such a great idea?

On the Fence, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights for February 5, 2018, http://communityenvironment.unl.edu/fence-february-2018

Winter Weather & Livestock Care
Inclement weather can be a nuisance, even life threatening, if we don't respect it. For many on acreages, blizzards can be a major inconvenience and require us to do extra work to manage the snow. However, it can be much more serious for our farmer neighbors.

Snow means extra challenges to get feed and water to livestock that might be grazing in fields. While the electricity going off is not good for anyone, it can be a potential crisis for farmers, particularly livestock producers. In livestock facilities, supplemental heat and ventilation, both requiring electricity, can be critical for the wellbeing of animals.

Dealing with the weather, marketing crops, planning for the growing season ahead, and attending conferences, workshops, and meetings to get the latest information are just a few of the activities happening on many farms. While it's still fairly early for a lot of livestock producers, lambing and calving are in full swing for others. The weather can just make these a bigger challenge. So even though things might appear quiet on farms, there's always something going on.

Clearing the Snow
Patty just called, it's time for me to take a break from this column for lunch. She's made my favorite venison Swiss steak. We laugh about her discovery that if you put marshmallows on sweet potatoes, then zap them in the microwave, the marshmallows turn into something about the consistency of well chewed bubble gum and are twice as sticky as Gorilla Glue! After lunch I tell her that since it quit snowing for a while, I'm going to get rid of the first wave of snow.

On the Fence, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights for February 5, 2018, http://communityenvironment.unl.edu/fence-february-2018

Two hours later I'm through moving snow. It wasn't so bad, I had my tractor plugged in and it actually started with just a little persuasion. The driveway isn't pretty, but it's passable if we had to get out and hopefully it will be that way by morning so I don't have to clear it again. It has started to snow again as I come in the house. But that doesn't matter, I'm greeted with the smell of fresh brownies that I soon discover are still warm.

On the Fence, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights for February 5, 2018, http://communityenvironment.unl.edu/fence-february-2018Image of red-bellied woodpecker.

Pleasures of a 
Snowy Day
I enjoy one as I stand at the dining room window and watch hundreds of birds (really) at my feeders only 10 to 50 feet from the window. I have four kinds of woodpeckers: flickers, downy, hairy and red bellied, as well as goldfinches, house finches, blue jays, cardinals, nuthatches, juncos, robins, pheasants, a lone starling, and a couple squirrels. It's amazing how much food they ate since I filled the feeders a few hours ago.

On the Fence, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights for February 5, 2018, http://communityenvironment.unl.edu/fence-february-2018Image of robin.

I move to sit on the hearth with my back to a nice, warm fire in the fireplace as I enjoy a second brownie. I tell myself when I'm done writing this column, I'll claim the couch and watch something on TV while my two cats, Nip and Tuck, will fall asleep on my chest. Who needs an electric blanket, I have fur-covered body heat! And I think to myself, living in the country really was a great idea!

What to do on a snowy day? Take pictures of backyard visitors. (All these images were taken from my kitchen or dining room windows.)

On the Fence, Acreage Insights for February 2018. http://communityenvironment.unl.edu/fence-february-2018
On the Fence. Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights, http://acreage.unl.edu
On the Fence with John Wilson
Extension Educator - Innovative Cropping and Water Systems
Nebraska Extension Educator John Wilson discusses life on an acreage.

Location: Based in Burt County with responsibilities in Thurston and Dakota counties; statewide responsibilities with soybean cyst nematode education
Program Areas: Crop Production, particularly corn, soybeans & alfalfa; integrated pest management, particularly insects, diseases & nematodes
Focus Area: Soybean cyst nematodes and soybean diseases
Education: BS and MS degrees in agronomy (crop production option) from University of Nebraska-Lincoln