For Release December 18, 2005

A County Agent's Christmas List

by Chuck Otte, Geary County Extension Agent

As Christmas is one week away, I find it only appropriate to do something I don't believe I've done for a few years, and that's to make up a Christmas wish list from a county agent's point of view. And I have to admit that after a couple dozen years of doing this, one develops a rather unusual view of the world. So bear with me as I write my wish list for this holiday season!

For starters, I'd really like to see a normal winter followed by a normal growing season. No excessively cold weather (well, we missed that already!), at least for the rest of the winter season. I'd like no early warm ups that cause plants to break dormancy early. Then just a nice warm up with no late frosts and then average rainfall, in a timely manner, throughout the growing season. I'm not really asking for that much, just one of those Kansas years that we all dream about, with no unusual surprises, like snow in April or tornadoes in December!

I'd also like a growing season with no unusual insect or disease outbreaks. We know that soybean rust is coming, but let's put that off for another year or two. Last year we had a couple of unusual outbreaks of soybean insect pests. Let's not have that again. I'd like the chinch bugs to cool it in '06 and grasshoppers to just go away as well. Is it too much to have a growing season, for both crops, gardens and lawns, that is fairly free of pests?

Now this next one is going to be tougher to fill. I'd like some landscaping trees and shrubs that can actually survive in all those new yards that are going up around the region. You see, we have a great deal of variability in the soils and microclimates in all these new subdivisions. Some are on good, deep alluvial (river deposited) soils. Others are on some fairly decent upland soils that may have a bit more clay in them. And then we have those really picturesque building sites that have 4 inches of soil, or less, and lots of rocks. You can't treat all these different locations the same and use the same plant materials in all of them. They are all quite different and the trees that will grow well in the first two, may not survive the first season in the third. So all I want is some plants that can grow in all three of those locations, equally well!

We're through with the easy part of the list now and move into the slightly trickier part and somewhat more esoteric. To get this part of the wish list filled, it's going to take everyone's help! For starters, I'm hoping for more tolerance by everyone. We're facing the challenge of lots of changes in our community, in the coming months, and that means changes in the way we do everything from day to day. More traffic, more people in the stores, more students in the schools. Everything we do every day is going to change and that will probably be upsetting at times. Instead of taking seven minutes to get to work, it may take eleven minutes. Okay, so let's not get all upset, it's just a change in the way we do things and it what's four more minutes to get to the grocery store? We need to remember that change isn't necessarily bad, it's just different.

The final item on my wish list is for peace in the hearts of all of us. We find it so easy to get upset by the person who cuts in front of us in the line, the car that zooms around us or the car that is going so slow ahead of us. The success of the future of our community, our state, our country or world, isn't all about me or you, it's all about us. I find that I often get the most upset in other people with the same things that I find myself doing. It takes tolerance and it takes each of us learning to find peace in our everyday lives. I hope everything on your wish list gets filled and please help me fill everything on my list!


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