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Agriculture

  • WICHE: Snow pack leaves evidence of wildlife

    The other day, 4:30 p.m., after shedding my city boots for my country boots I head back out the door with my egg basket and a jug off water. Our two livestock guardian, dogs by my side, and I head back to the barn.

    In the blink of an eye Baxter and Finca take off in full defense mode towards our hens and the barn. Baxter takes the front and Finca takes the back. And, to my bewilderment, a beautiful coyote is flushed from beyond and the dogs follow pursuit. Wiley coyote hits the frozen lake, and the dogs circle.

  • WICHE: Ice-laden branches need attention

    The 2009 January ice storm knocked down limbs, electricity and phone service across Kentucky. The damage to trees was astounding, to say the least.

    Last week’s icy “situation” brought back the memory of those dread-filled days as we slowly tackled the clean-up effort at the farm. This year’s ice is not nearly as bad as 2009, but it sure left a mess in its wake. If you are among those with heavy damage assess the situation with an eye towards safety, first, and foremost.

  • Weather slows Shelby's farmers but can’t stop them

    As winter storms continue to blanket the area in snow and ice and temperatures drop into the single – and sometimes lower – digits, many farmers in Shelby County are trying to use their time wisely.

    There are plans to be set for when warmer weather hits and this season’s crops need to be planted, there are tractors and combines and bailers to repair, and budgets need to be examined before it’s time to order seeds.

  • WICHE: USDA hardiness zones are hot and cold

    The USDA Hardiness Zone Map has long been a guideline for cold hardiness of plants. About every 10 years it is revised in order to provide a bit more detail in our changing climate. The most recent map was revised in January of 2013 and is based on temperature information from 1976 through 2005.

    Climate researchers collected temperatures from more than 4,600 weather stations across the United States. They take the average coldest temperature of a location to come up with an “average annual extreme temperature” to determine an area’s hardiness zone.

  • WICHE: All this cold could be good

    A few weeks ago on Ira Flatow’s Science Friday there was an interview with research biologist Rob Venette from the U.S. Forest Service in Minnesota who addressed the effect temperature has on certain insects.

    The ability of insects to survive winter – when so many of them thrive in summer – has always fascinated me. While we would most certainly root for the bees and butterflies, my enthusiasm would wane for fleas and ticks.

  • Groundhogs cast shadows in Shelby, too

    After suffering through more than one “polar vortex” it’s a safe bet that Shelby Countians are hoping that Punxsutawney Phil and his fellow groundhogs don’t see their shadows on Sunday.

    According to folklore, if it’s cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day – Feb. 2, or Groundhog Day – then spring will come early. Or, if it’s sunny, the groundhog sees his shadow and returns to his burrow – resulting in six more weeks of winter.

  • WICHE: Orchids determined by the bloom

    Have you ever wondered what makes an orchid an orchid? Well, it is all about flower parts. In fact, most plants are categorized in the plant kingdom by their flowers.

  • WICHE: Plan ahead for spring garden

    Plant and seed catalogs will be jamming the mailbox any day now. I always feel like January ushers in a clean slate for the garden: Optimism abounds among fresh ideas and promises never to repeat a crop busting mistake are sharp in my memory. Sometimes the slate stays clean; sometimes it doesn’t.

    Either way the next couple of months can be used to plan and prepare for the next growing season. Don’t get over whelmed by (or over indulge in) all the catalogs until you actually decide on what you want to accomplish for the year.

  • Tobacco adjustment to be a big winner

    CAMPBELLSVILLE – Tobacco producers who opted for the 10-year annual payments during the 2004 tobacco buyout will receive the full amount of their final installment after all.

    Last year, United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the USDA planned to cut final tobacco payment installments by 7.2 percent as part of budget cuts resulting from federal sequestration.

  • WICHE: Plants, snow and deicing agents

    As I write, we are getting flurries, and the forecast calls for some frigid temperatures (by now we have experienced them).

    We have called to have our old furnace serviced to hedge our bets against frozen pipes as the heat pump struggles to keep up with single-digit temperatures. The firewood is staked and ready to stoke the Buckstove for overnight, and if the sidewalks get slick, we have a stash of deicing agents.

    As the winter season unfolds, consider the effect that deicing agents have on your plants.