acreage living August 1999

ISU cooperative extension

In this issue: acreage living home page

Teach Your Child Safe Surfing... Internet, That Is

Mary Beth Kaufman by Mary Beth Kaufman, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Family Resource Management, Shelby County
Phone: 712-755-3104 - e-mail:

The Internet, World Wide Web, information super-highway, and cyberspace all describe the technology adults and children have available at their fmgertips. With most schools now "online,"  students are adding another dimension to learnihg and may be ahead of the game when it comes to knowing more about cyberspace than their parents.

Schools generally have rules students must follow to use the Internet while at school. But as your kids head back to school, will "Internet surfing" at home or the library become necessary to complete homework and projects? If so, now is the time to review safety tips and set rules. Just as there are different TV shows and kinds of magazines, there are many types of places to visit in cyberspace. You don't have to be an Internet user or expert to enforce a few of these basic rules.

1. Set limits as to how long a child can "play" on the Internet. There is a difference between using the Internet for fun and using it productively for a project or assignment. You might also decide the time of day the child can use the Internet and what sites he/she may visit.

2. Protect the privacy of your family. Children should avoid providing personal information such as last names, addresses, phone numbers, passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, or school names of their own or other family members.

3. Request that children tell you if they come across information that makes them uncomfortable, scared, or that they don't understand. Teach them to never respond to such messages.

4. Children should be careful about talking to strangers on the Internet. They should never provide a picture of themselves or agree to meet with some one they've met on-line without first checking with their parents.

5. Encourage children to be a good on-line citizen. No name-calling, cursing, or actions that could hurt another person.

6. If children come across "adult only" places on the Internet, tell them to leave immediately and let you know what happened.

 7. Teach your children to be wise consumers in cyberspace. Not everything they see or hear may be true. Some sites may be trying to sell them something.

If you have a home computer, a number of software programs are available to block Web sites you may not want your children to visit. However, this software is no substitute for parental guidance. And while the best way to ensure your child's safety is to be there, that may not always be possible. Reviewing a few ground rules can help your child make informed decisions.

For more information about children's safety on the Internet, check out these websites:
What Makes a Great Kid's Website?
The purpose and content is clear with the source clearly identified and contact information provided.
The content encourages exploration and thinking and is appealing to the age level of the children for whom it was designed.
The site is easy to access with information that is accurate and updated regularly.
The site does more than what can be done with print; it contributes something unique or unusual.

Internet Definitions
Web Site - information site often containing colorful graphics, sound, and animation as well as text. Often linked to many other websites.

Usenet/newsgroup - postings on specific topics, where comments and images are in a bulletin board style.

Chat rooms - participants talk to each other in "real time" on particular subjects like baseball or video games with remarks appearing as they are typed in.

E-mail - typed messages sent to one or more persons almost instantaneously.

Junk e-mail - unsolicited commercial e-mail; also known as "spam."

Listserv - an on-line mailing list that allows individuals or organizations to send e-mail to groups of people at one time.


These rules are for my safety. I will honor them when I go online.

I can go online - _________ (Time of day) for  _________ (how long)

It's ___ OK ___ not OK for me to go online without a parent.

I understand which sites I can visit and which ones are off limits.

I won't give out information about myself or my family without permission from my parents.

My password is my secret. I won't give it to anyone.

I will never agree to meet an on-line pal or send my picture without permission from my parents.

I know an advertisement when I see one. I also know that animated or cartoon characters aren't real and may be trying to sell me some thing or get information from me.

I will follow these same rules when I am at home, in school, at the library or at a friend's home.

Source: The American Library Association and Federal Trade Commission


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 Bats in the Belfry?

Jim Pease by Jim Pease, ISU Extension Wildlife Specialist, Ames
Phone: 515-294-7429 - e-mail: or

Decades of bad press and centuries of legends of Dracula have given bats a bad name. Bats really are fascinating wild creatures often misunderstood and, unfortunately, mistreated by unknowing people. while you may not want to share your house with them, they are extremely valuable to have around.

Bats are the only truly flying mammal in North America. The toe bones of their front feet are long and modified to support and control the thin skin of their wings. The skin of the wing is a live, thin membrane --so thin you can read through it! The hind feet are feeble compared to the strong flight muscles of the front limbs. They help the tail, when there is a tail, to expand the tail membrane in flight, catching insects and serving as a flight rudder. The five toes on each back foot have a sharp, hooked claws. They hang from these, head down, while at rest. In this position it is easy for them to be aware of approaching danger, drop easily, and fly immediately.

Bats are not "flying mice" and are more closely related to insect-eating shrews. All nine species of Iowa bats are important insect eaters, often consuming hundreds of insects each in a single night's flight! While some bats in the tropics of Central and South America feed on nectar, fruit, fish, frogs and blood, none of those species live here. Bats are not blind, though eyesight is not important in their search for food. They have excellent hearing and large ears. Bats send out high-pitched sounds - unheard by human ears - which echo back to the bat. Bats thus receive "audio images" of whatever is in front of them. In effect, bats can "see" with their ears. This sonar, called "echolocation," allows them to navigate in the dark, as well as to hunt for insects on the wing.

During winter, bats in Iowa either migrate south or hibernate in hollow trees, caves, or human-made structures, including house attics, walls, and basements. Because there are no flying insects for them to feed on in winter, they hibernate, slowing down their breathing, heart rate, and other body functions and live off their fat reserves until spring. They may occasionally awaken to defecate or seek a warmer spot. Only two species are likely to use human structures during the summer-the big brown and little brown myotis-and only big brown bats occupy houses in the winter.

Mature females give birth to single young in late spring or early June. Like other mammals, they breast-feed milk to their youngster. They leave the maternity area each evening to search for insects, leaving the young bats "hanging around." Upon return, maternal bats are able to find their own baby among a cluster of hundreds of young bats!

While most people do not desire bats in their homes, their insect-eating habits make them extremely valuable to have around. There are no federal or state-registered "baticides." Excluding bats with proper screening and caulking is the method of choice. However, exclusion should be done ONLY during months in which young bats are not likely to be trapped inside to starve to death. That means doing exclusion only during April to mid-May or after August 15th. Exclusion must either be done at night, while bats are out flying, or by placing a one-way door over their entrance for several days, allowing them to escape. To keep them around but not in your house, consider installing a bat house. Plans are available for bat houses that can be placed on the side of a building or in trees in your yard. The Extension publication entitled Shelves, Houses; and Feeders for Birds and Mammals (NCR 338) has plans for one type.

For more information on bats, contact the Iowa DNR for a copy of A Guide to the Bats of lowa, a publication of the Iowa Wildlife Diversity Program. You may also contact Bat Conservation International on the Web at or write them at Box 162603, Austin TX 78716.


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 Thickening Pastures

Carroll Olsenby Carroll Olsen, ISU Extension Field Specialist/Crops, SW Area Extension Center
Phone: 712-769-2600 - e-mail:

This is a good time of year to be checking on your pasture's health and your pasture management. And it's one of the two best times to do interseeding if you want to introduce new species of forages into your existing pasture to increase production. In- creasing production in this way also helps control weeds by filling in the blank spots and increasing plant competition.

First, your management. Most of us use cool season forages and if they are ever vulnerable to drought and moisture stress, this would be the time. Have you given the plants a chance to regrow, allowing some leaves to remain so as to manufacture food for the plants? Are you controlling the grazing patterns, not letting the livestock grub the plants into the ground in one area and letting plants go to seed in other areas?

Now for "thickening" a pasture. If the need is there to introduce other species into the pasture, it probably should be done before September 1. We need to get the root of the new seedling down and allow as much growth as possible before the first killing frost. You'll need to make a judgement as to whether you feel there is enough moisture available in the soil to start the plants. Seedings are expensive and you might want to wait until next spring.

Select the species for specific needs and purposes. You don't need to get too fancy with the mixtures. I usually use smooth bromegrass as a base and go from there. Bromegrass plants seem to be able to take a lot of abuse and still come back. And, it will produce very well with high levels of management.

We're always reading about some "new" forage that is going to revolutionize our forage capabilities. You need to check out how these miracle plants do in your area. Some graziers are adding perennial ryegrass (similar to perennial ryegrass in your lawn) because it produces very high quality forage. How ever, it may be best adapted to southern Iowa because of overwintering problems. I'm sure there are others out there that may fit your management and area.

Do you want to add a legume to increase summer feed as well as add some nitrogen for your grass? Perennials such as alfalfa or birdsfoot trefoil could be planted now. Red clover is more of a biennial (lasts two years) so we wouldn't expect to get as much feed from it planted now, as compared to if we seeded it in the spring.

No matter what you plant or when you plant it, seed-soil contact is the key. The best is to have the area looking like a garden, the worst is to do nothing -- just throw out the seed. Somewhere in between (some tillage with lots of packing) will help get the seed started. Don't forget to schedule proper rains with Mother Nature.


Acreage Living is published monthly. For more information, contact your local county ISU Extension Office.
Editor: Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension FS/Ag Engineering, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa, 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600
Layout & Design: Paulette Cambridge, Office Assistant, SW Area Extension, 53020 Hitchcock Avenue, Lewis, Iowa 51544, Ph: 712/769-2600

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