March 2012

Life Outside the City Limits

Collage of March Images

Nebraska Outdoor U!
By Scott Stuhr, Nebraska Outdoor U! Program Coordinator

Collage of outdoor sports imageNebraska Outdoor U! will guide YOU on the path to Hunting, Shooting Sports, Camping, and Fishing. Whether you are new to these outdoor sports, look-ing to improve your skills, or just want to pass on your passion and knowledge, this is the place for you!


Hunting- Whether you want to hunt with a shotgun, rifle, bow, muzzleloader or pistol, you have a home in this Pathway. You will learn about the different kinds of game in Nebraska, how to hunt, and take care your game after harvest. You will also learn about the different equipment used for hunting, how to handle it safely, and how to take care of it. Many other useful tips will be provided to make your hunting trips enjoyable and safe!

Camping- Through this Pathway, you will learn how to cook over a campfire, discover what essentials you need on every camping trip, and hone your skills to get every possible enjoyment while spending time in the great outdoors. You will learn how to choose and set up your campsite and use common camping equipment. Many other useful tips will be provided to make your camping trips enjoyable and safe!

Fishing- In this Pathway, you will learn about all types of fishing. Discover what it takes to fish with flies, in a river, or even through the ice. You will learn about the different kinds of fish in Nebraska and how to catch and care for your fish. Many other useful tips will be provided to make your fishing trips enjoyable and safe!

Shooting Sports- Learn about shotguns, rifles, archery, muzzleloaders, and handguns. This program is for those who want to learn about shooting, but not necessarily hunting. Find out where you can safely shoot. Learn about different competitions available in your discipline. Discover why safe handling, care, and storage of your equipment is important. Many other useful tips will be provided to make your shooting experiences enjoyable and safe!

Achievement Levels

Within each Pathway there are six levels of achievement to be reached with incentives to keep you motivated and learning. Start with the basics by going through online tutorials and then quickly progress to hands-on pro-grams. Once comfortable with your skills you will have fun sharing your knowledge and helping others begin their own Nebraska Outdoor U! Pathway.

Pathfinder - Discover the way
In the Pathfinder level, you will gain knowledge through research and quizzes. This is the initial exposure to your selected discipline and its activities, equipment, areas and concepts.

Explorer - Travel and search out new information
Get out and explore! Become more involved in activities, training, and group functions. Start a journal, help the environment, and plan a trip are just a few of the things you will get to do in this level.

Trailblazer - Blaze a trail to guide others
Blaze a trail to active participation in your discipline. Purchase permits, visit new areas, help others have fun in the outdoors, and meet people that have the same passion and joy of the outdoors that you do. Actively participate in your discipline and discover new opportunities.

Pioneer - Help prepare others to follow
Become a certified leader in a discipline of your choice. Volunteer to teach others how much fun the Nebraska outdoors can be. Involve others in your discipline and help someone achieve the Pathfinder level in your discipline.

Mentor - Become a trusted guide
Give back to your discipline by leading others. Create a program and present it to a youth or adult group that is interested in the outdoors. Volunteer and become active in an organization of your choice.

Legacy - Share your time and talents with others
Volunteer in your discipline for an extended period of time through the creation of programs and service. Share your passion and knowledge with others. Pass the enjoyment, respect, and responsibility of Nebraska's great outdoors on to someone else. This is your Legacy.

Who Can Sign Up?

This program is for everyone, beginners and experts alike! We like to say it is for those from 5 to 105 and beyond. Depending on the Pathway you take, some age requirements may apply regarding leadership roles and the use of some equipment, but anyone who wants to gather outdoor skills can find a place in Nebraska Outdoor U!

For more information visit the Nebraska Outdoor U! website

Log in or register here.




March is when spring fever really hits! Our topics may help with those who are itching to get outdoors... pruning grapes and trees to consider when replacing evergreens. And for those who may be itching indoors, a feature about bedbugs!

There's still time to do some dormant pruning to help increase grape production, according to Steve Gamet, University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


Graham Herbst, Nebraska Forest Service, tells factors to consider when selecting evergreens for your landscape.


Barb Ogg, UNL Extension, shares some of her vast knowledge of bedbugs, a pest we've been hearing about more and more.

.  Intro for BegBug video

Beekeeping Education
By Marion Ellis, UNL Entomology Specialist

Image of honeybeesThe Apiculture Laboratory located at the Agricultural Research and Development Center provides a unique setting for beekeeping educational programs and applied apiculture research. Educational programs have the advantage of a fully equipped auditorium for classroom presentations and nearby apiaries for hands-on activities. Educational programs offered at the ARDC include beginning beekeeping classes, master beekeeping workshops, value-added products workshops, queen rearing workshops and field days. The laboratory also provides a site for UNL students to gain experience working with honey bees and hive products.

Apiculture research at the ARDC focuses on solving applied apicultural problems. During the last 20 years 5 important bee diseases and pests have been accidentally introduced to the U.S., and the apiaries located on the ARCD have been used to develop and evaluate techniques to detect bee pests, to determine when intervention is needed, and to develop and evaluate pest suppression techniques. The extensive honey bee colony losses that occurred in the spring of 2007 across the U.S. demand a strong effort to provide sustainable solutions to introduced bee diseases and pests. The Apiculture Laboratory's ongoing programs will allow the University of Nebraska to make important contributions to providing beekeepers the tools and knowledge to successfully manage their colonies.

For more about beekeeping educational programs offered this year at the ARDC, visit the UNL Entomology website or dowload the program brochure.



Ants May Invade Homes in Springtime
By Keith Jarvi, UNL Extension Educator

Image of antBelieve it or not, we are nearing the time when we will see ant and termite swarms in Nebraska. Ants swarming in and outside homes create concerns for homeowners that these winged insects are termites. While some ants do nest in the wood of homes, many ants do not. They are considered nuisance invaders.

Ants are recognized by three fairly distinct body sections, a thin "waist" and elbowed antenna. Termites are blackish gray and only have two distinct body sections with straight antenna. Swarming ants have 2 pairs of wings of unequal size, while swarming termites have wings of equal length. 

Another identifying characteristic of some ants is a citrus or lemon-like odor when crushed.  For more information, check out these Ant Identification Resources.

Most ants nest in soil. They construct nests under logs, rocks, patio blocks, porches, concrete patios and more. They often excavate large amounts of soil as they build their nests. If the colony is under a concrete slab of a structure, the soil may continue to pile up.

Since most ant nests are in the soil and not in wood, caulking cracks or openings where ants may be entering the building is an effective management option. For ants swarming indoors, control with a vacuum or aerosol spray.

Control of the ant colony involves locating and treating the nest with an insecticide. If you cannot locate and treat the nest yourself, contact a licensed pest control operator. Baits may not be effective for certain ants.

Some types of ants do nest in the wood of homes and may be present year round, although they are more active during warm months. Ant species that may live in Nebraska homes include crazy ants, odorous house ants, pavement ants, pharaoh ants, thief ants, and carpenter ants.

Spraying an insecticide to control the foraging workers of these ants may provide short-term control. For long term control, locating and destroying the nest is the best way to eliminate these ants. Ant baits can work if they are used correctly; although ant baits may not work as well with carpenter ants.

Unlike other home-inhabiting ants, carpenter ants cause structural damage to wood by tunneling and nesting inside wood. However, they rarely nest in sound wood, but most often invade wood that has become wet and started to decay. Preventing moisture problems is a key to preventing carpenter ant colonies in buildings.

For information on the identification and control of ants, call or bring ant samples to your local Extension office or refer to the insect link on the Lancaster County Extension website.  If you have questions or are unsure of identification, bring specimens in to your local UNL Extension office.



March is National Colan Cancer Awareness Month
Lisa Franzen-Castle, UNL Extension Nutrition Specialist

Image of purple colon cancer ribbonColon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the country and Nebraska has one of the highest incidences of colorectal cancer in the United States. Both men and women of all racial and ethnic groups are at risk for colon cancer, but it occurs more frequently in people who are obese. There are several ways to help reduce your risk and prevent colon cancer. Many of these strategies focus on healthy lifestyle practices such as eating habits, limiting alcohol, being physically active, and not smoking.

 How to Reduce your Risk

  • Eat healthy. One way to lower your risk is to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and whole grains from breads, cereals, nuts, and beans. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans stresses that we should limit the intake of refined carbohydrates (starches), such as pastries, sweetened cereals, and other high-sugar foods.
  • Focus on folate. Folate is a B vitamin that helps produce and maintain new cells. It may also help prevent changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. Eat foods with folate more often such as leafy green vegetables like spinach and turnip greens, fruits such as citrus fruits and juices, and dried beans and peas.
  • Limit alcohol. If alcohol is consumed, it should be done in moderation. According to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men, and only by adults of legal drinking age. One drink is defined as 12 fluid ounces of regular beer, 5 fluid ounces of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits.
  • Toss tobacco. Based on several studies of groups of people followed over many years, smoking appears to double the risk of colon cancers. If you use tobacco, I encourage you to quit as soon as possible. If you do not use tobacco, do not start. Visit and for more information and resources on quitting.
  • Be active. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity most days of the week. You can even break it up into 10 minute segments throughout the day. Moderate exercise such as walking, gardening, or climbing steps may help reduce your risk. Examples of vigorous activity include jogging or running, fast bicycling, circuit weight training, aerobic dance, martial arts, jumping rope, or swimming.

You can lower your risk of developing colon cancer by managing the risk factors that you can control, like diet and physical activity. This March, make your health a priority and make some permanent lifestyle changes. For more information, resources, and recipes check out Find out details about the Nebraska Colon Cancer Screening Program.



Plants Love Rainwater - So Do Rain Barrels!
By Katie Pekarek, UNL Extension Educator

Image of rain barrelMarch winds and April showers bring forth May flowers. It also brings forth valuable water that can be harvested for infiltrating into soil for plant use and groundwater recharge, or temporarily stored for later use in place of being immediately directed down a storm drain. This means it's time to start planning for a rain barrel.

Water is an important, but limited natural resource. As greater demands are placed on freshwater supplies, it will not be sustainable to continue to use water treated to high drinking water standards for landscape uses.

Alternative water sources, like rainwater, will continue to be needed more for non-potable uses like plant irrigation. One of the simplest methods of using rainwater is collecting the rainwater in a rain barrel for landscape irrigation.

Rainwater harvesting has been practiced for centuries and was once a primary method for obtaining water for domestic use. Today, increasing water demands, water use restrictions, and the growth of low impact development have sparked a renewed interest in catch-and-release practices like rain barrels and cisterns.

Rain barrels and cisterns temporarily store water for later use. Rain barrels can be homemade or purchased commercially. If making your own, start with a food grade barrel or one in which a nontoxic material was stored. One example of how to make a rain barrel is available on the City of Lincoln website at

Rain barrels are typically 50 to 100 gallon size. From a 1000 square foot roof, it is estimated up to 125 gallons of water will flow from one downspout during a one inch rain. This means an average roof produces enough rain for two 50 gallon rain barrels from a single downspout AND that you must plan for overflow.

Today's rain barrels have a two to three inch opening near the top so excess water will flow out once the barrel is full. PVC pipe or flexible hosing can connected to the opening to direct water away from building foundations to a lawn or planting bed, or ideally to a rain garden which can catch more rainwater.

Today's rain barrels are covered and have fine mesh screens to keep children, pets and mosquitoes out. Spigots or faucets are attached near the bottom to access the water. It is wise to place the rain barrel on a sturdy platform, like cinder blocks, so that it is easier to hook a hose to the faucet and to use gravity to increase water pressure.

Plants love rainwater! It is naturally soft, oxygenated and more acidic than tap water. It is free of chlorine, fluorine and salts. It is highly recommended for irrigating ornamental plants like flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs.

However, it is not recommended for use on edible crops like vegetables, herbs and fruits. Most rainwater is collected for rooftops. As the water flows over the roof it can pick up bacteria from bird or squirrel droppings or chemicals leached from some roofing materials or gutter systems. For this reason, rain barrel water should not be used for drinking by people or pets, to fill children's swimming pools, for hair washing, bathing, or to wash produce.

Rain barrels are a good introduction to rainwater harvesting but limited in the amount of rainwater they can harvest. For increased rainwater harvesting to conserve water and reduce the amount of stormwater run-off from properties, learn more about rain gardens at the website.



New NebGuides Will Help Rural Nebraskans
Protect Private Drinking Water Supplies - Part II
By Sharon Skipton, UNL Extension Educator

Image of wellheadLast month, we introduced you to two of six new University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension NebGuides designed to help rural families protect their private drinking water supplies. We will now introduce the last four NebGuides in the series. All are available at, and can be downloaded free of charge.

Runoff is the excess water from irrigation, rain, or melting snow that moves across property. As it flows, runoff can collect and transport soil, pet waste, livestock manure, salt, pesticides, fertilizer, oil and grease, leaves, litter, and many other potential pollutants. Polluted runoff can flow down a poorly sealed well or an unplugged well where it can contaminate groundwater. The NebGuide "Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Runoff Management" will help people evaluate contaminants present or generated on their property, as well as recognize landscape management practices that could affect runoff quality and quantity.

Pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and rodenticides) and fertilizers (nitrate and phosphorus) play an important role in the management of rural property. If pesticides and fertilizers are not stored, handled, and applied correctly, they can move through soil into groundwater. The NebGuide "Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Pesticide and Fertilizer Storage and Handling" will help people evaluate storage, use, and disposal of pesticides and fertilizers.

Consider the variety of products used in households and on rural property - paints, solvents, oils, cleaners, wood preservatives, batteries, and adhesives. Also, consider the amount of these products which goes unused or is thrown away. Minimizing the amounts of these substances used on rural property, along with practicing proper disposal procedures can protect groundwater that is the source of drinking water. The NebGuide "Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: Hazardous Materials and Waste Management" will help people evaluate management of products such as ash, building/wood maintenance products, vehicle/metal equipment maintenance products, and wood preserving products.

The NebGuide "Protecting Private Drinking Water Supplies: An Introduction" serves as an introduction to wellhead protection and as a summary action plan. People can return to the guide after reading each of the other NebGuides in the series. Space is provided for people to list risks they identified on their property and identify one or more possible actions they can take to reduce the risk. The NebGuide can be referenced often as families implement their plan to reduce risks to their drinking water supply.

The greatest protection of drinking water supplies can be achieved by applying principles from all six publications in the series. Are you doing all you can to protect your drinking water? Use the NebGuides and find out.

The series of publications is the result of a collaborative effort between the University of Nebraska - Lincoln Extension, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality, the Nebraska Well Drillers Association, and the Nebraska Onsite Waste Water Association, all of whom place a high priority on protecting Nebraska's drinking water resources. Partial funding was provided by the Nebraska Well Drillers Association, the Nebraska Onsite Waste Water Association, and the Water Well Standards and Contractors' Licensing Board.

Publications were modified from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Farm*A*Syst publications which were adapted from material prepared for the Wisconsin and Minnesota Farm*A*Syst programs.



March Weekend Project - Making a Seed Tape
By John Fech, UNL Extension Educator

Image of Seed TapeIf you're antsy to be gardening and you just can't stand it, you can scratch that itch with a late winter garden project. Make a seed tape. What is a seed tape? It's a perfectly spaced, pre-made seed product. Why make a seed tape? Two reasons. It ensures proper spacing of the veggie seeds in the row, and teaches children about math facts.

Here's how: Unroll a toilet paper roll about 5 or 6 feet and lay the sheet on your kitchen table. Or cut newspapers into long strips.  Next read the seed package for spacing instructions. For example, instructions for green beans might be to space seeds three inches apart in the row. . Place a drop of white glue every 3 inches down the lenght of the toilet paper sheet. Use a ruler to guide you. Then, place a seed on every drop of glue. Let the seed dry to the glue, and then roll it up.

You can make a seed tape for very small seeds as well, such as radish. This is helpful, because the common tendency is to overplant and crowd too many seeds in the row with smaller ones. When seeding time rolls around, all you have to do is take the edge of your hoe and make a furrow. The seed tape is all ready to be placed into the furrow and covered with soil. What could be easier?!!



My Horse University

Image of a horseThe E-Quine Expert is a monthly e-publication brought to you by My Horse University and eXtension's HorseQuest. Each issue contains bales of relevant information based on the research and knowledge from world-renowned experts and our online courses and products. Past issues of The E-Quine Expert are available in our newsletter archives.  Sign up to receive email delivery each month.

The month's issue featured a article on "Equine- Hobby or Business?"

Free webcasts are offered September through May.  The March 27 webcast will address Managing Live Horse Events.  You can also find a list of over 40 recorded webcast programs that are free and can be viewed at any time. 

All of this information and more is available from My Horse University.



Hay Feeding Losses?
By Steve Tonn, UNL Extension Educator

Image of goats feedingWe are in the middle of hay feeding time for livestock and many acreage owners are feeding big round bales. They make the job much easier. Large bale feeding systems are designed to minimize labor but not waste. So how much of that hay are you throwing away? Depending on the feeding method, feeding losses can reach as high as 30-35 percent. You wouldn't dream of throwing away one third of the hay you are feeding to your livestock.

Large bales fed free-choice without a rack or feeder in muddy conditions can result in forage losses as high as 45%. But that's what happens when livestock are allowed unlimited access to hay. Livestock trample, over-consume, foul on, and use for bedding 25% to 45% of the hay when it is fed with no restrictions or is not processed. Take a look to see how much hay is on the outside of the feeder and being wasted.

Hay loss and waste can be reduced by managing how often we feed and by the type of hay feeder we use. Daily feeding will force animals to eat hay they might otherwise refuse, over-consume, trample and waste. Livestock waste less hay when the amount fed is limited to what is needed each day. One fourth more hay is needed when a four-day supply is fed with free access. If hay is fed free choice, animals will over consume.

While we want to restrict the number of bales offered at one time, we should make sure that there is enough space for all animals to access the forage. Otherwise, the more aggressive animals will eat first and consume the more desirable hay, and animals that are more timid will be forced to eat the lower quality hay or go hungry.

Feeding hay in a rack or a round bale feeder limits the opportunity animals have to trample or soil hay, and reduces waste substantially. Least feeding losses occur where hay is fed with a rack or bale feeder that forces the animal to turn its head when backing away from the feeder. When animals can back straight out of a feeder, they can pull out large chunks of hay that drop on the ground and are lost as feed. Research at the University of Nebraska and Michigan State University has shown feed waste of 3.3%, 5.9%, 9%, 11.1%, and 14.2% for cone, ring feeder with skirt, racks, trailer and cradle feeders. Long feeders are less effective than round or square feeders because boss animals will push others back by walking down the long feeder, interrupting their feeding and reducing their intake.
While some losses will always occur, keeping losses to a minimum can reduce feed costs, resulting in more efficient use of forages and saving money too.



Small Scale Poultry Housing
By Phillip Clauer, Virginia Cooperative Extension Poultry Extension Specialist

Image of chicksSmall scale poultry coops seem to be built in almost every possible shape and size. Those building a new coop often ask for plans for the perfect chicken coop. However, few plans for small poultry houses are available. Many existing buildings can easily be adapted to accommodate poultry. Poultry housing can be as crude or elaborate as you wish to build as long as you provide the following:

  • Protection
  • Adequate space
  • Easy access to feed and water
  • Source of light
  • Ventilation