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Farm Service Agency offers multiple services
to rural Americans
Reducing Rabbit Damage
ISU Extension’s 100th Anniversary
Winterizing Your Home
Cougars in Iowa
Iowa Law Protects Bees
Fall Lawn Care
Clothing Stain Removal
Agency Offers Multiple Services to Rural Americans
By Beth Grabau, Dallas County Farm Service Agency Director
Do you think the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is just
for large farms, farmers, and people in production agriculture?
Actually, this United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) agency administers a wide variety of federal
farm programs aimed at assisting all rural Americans,
regardless of how much land they own.
FSA programs range from traditional agriculture programs
for corn and soybean growers to ones that meet the needs
of small producers such as programs that relate to wool,
lambs, and those that produce mohair or horticulture
products. People with truck gardens, apple orchards,
hay crops, and more can look to FSA for crop insurance.
FSA offices also can provide cost share to people
wanting to establish conservation practices on their
land. FSA works closely with the Natural Resources and
Conservation Service (NRCS) staff to promote and support
conservation efforts. In addition, production and beginning
farmer loans are available through your local FSA office.
Most FSA offices are located in the county seat and
are listed in the phone book under USDA or Farm Service
Agency. They often are housed in the same building as
the NRCS, Rural Development, and ISU Extension.
If you are an acreage owner interested in starting
a small farm produce business, planting an apple orchard,
seeding a filter strip along your creek, raising a few
sheep, or something else, contact your local FSA office
before you start to see how we might help you.
For more information about FSA, go to www.fsa.usda.gov.
Horse owners: check out the “Need Hay? or Have
Procedures Help Reduce Rabbit Damage to Landscape Plants
By Eldon Everhart, ISU Extension Commercial Horticulture
Rabbits can girdle trunks and branches of fruit trees
and landscape plants. Apple, pear, crabapple, and serviceberry
plants are frequent targets. Small trees or shrubs with
smooth, thin bark are the most vulnerable. Following
are some effective control procedures.
Use a cylinder of one-quarter mesh hardware cloth (wire
mesh) around the base of fruit and ornamental trees
and shrubs. Set the guard 1 to 2 inches away from the
trunk and 2 to 3 inches in the ground. Extend the wire
up at least 18 inches above the ground. In areas where
snowdrifts develop, you will need to extend the wire
guards up higher. You can protect small shrubs, roses,
and raspberries with chicken wire fencing.
Capture rabbits alive in commercial or homemade wire
or wood box traps. Peanut butter, oatmeal, or small
slices of apples, carrots, cabbage, and other fresh
green vegetables make the best bait. Check traps daily
to replenish bait or remove the catch. Move traps if
they fail to make a catch within a week. Hunting may
be another option.
Apply a commercially available repellent. When you apply
one in the fall, it may need to be reapplied later in
the winter. Thiram is an active ingredient that repels
both rabbits and mice. Mix 10 parts water with one part
latex paint and spray or brush it on. Commercial repellents
that contain Thiram or other active ingredients are
available at garden centers and farm supply stores.
Manipulation of habitat
An often overlooked form of natural control is manipulation
of the rabbit’s habitat. Remove brush or stone
piles, weed patches, junk, and other debris where rabbits
live and hide. Encouraging the rabbit’s natural
enemies may also help. Hawks, owls, snakes, dogs, and
cats can be effective predators on young rabbits.
These safeguards will help reduce rabbit damage. However,
when snowdrifts are deep, rabbits can eat the tips of
branches and even girdle limbs. It is very important
to reduce rabbit populations in early or midwinter.
Leaving pruned branches on the ground also reduces damage
to living trees because rabbits are more apt to chew
the branches and leave the trees alone.
If these methods are ineffective, then commercial
rodent baits containing poisoned grain are available.
However, baits may be hazardous to humans, pets, and
beneficial wildlife. Injury or death may result if other
animals eat the bait directly or consume rodents killed
by the bait.
State University Extension Celebrates 100th Anniversary
Since 1903, ISU Extension has touched the life of
nearly every Iowan in one way or another. What started
with a group of Sioux County farmers’ interest
in taking the land-grant college to the people has resulted
today in ISU Extension’s presence in every county,
helping improve quality of life in Iowa.
In 2002, more than 665,000 people had individual contact
with ISU Extension programs. Through workshops, conferences
or home study, they learned how to strengthen their
families, improve their health, handle finances, help
save the environment, become community leaders, and
improve their businesses.
Stop by your local ISU Extension office today to learn
more about how the organization is using modern communication,
technology, and partnerships to help Iowans become their
best. Look for local celebrations in your area during
the next year and during ISU Extension Week, Nov. 16-22,
for Upcoming Cold Weather by Winterizing your Home
By Shawn Shouse, ISU Extension Agricultural Engineering
winter on the way, here are some tips to help you prepare.
First, have a qualified technician check your heating
and venting system. Cracked heat exchangers, improper
fueling rates, and faulty venting systems can lead to
deadly carbon monoxide in your home. Install carbon
monoxide detectors to warn you of a problem.
If you have a well pit, insulate the lid. Drain water
lines in unheated crawl spaces and outbuildings or protect
them with heat tape. Water pipes in cabinets against
outside walls may freeze. Place insulation between the
pipes and the wall, or leave the cabinet doors open
in extreme cold. Remember to disconnect and drain garden
Roughly 12 inches of attic insulation is recommended.
Seal cracks and holes in the walls and foundation with
insulation, caulking, or gaskets. Insulating basement
walls can lead to big heat savings.
Replace missing or loose caulking. Adding layers to
the window will hold more heat in the house and will
keep the inside window surface warmer and less prone
to condensation. Storm windows and plastic film are
Snow and Ice
Check your supply of dry sand or ice melt. Place snow
fences at least 20 times their height upwind from the
driveway or other protected area. Complete snow blower
tune-up and maintenance.
Have proper winter apparel ready. Review safety rules
for family members who may use the snow blower or tractor
to move snow. Assemble winter safety kits and put them
in your vehicles. Check your smoke detectors. Throw
away worn-out extension cords. Every year, hundreds
of house fires are caused by overloaded extension cords
and temporary heating devices.
Some people have feared for their pets, livestock,
and even themselves since an adult cougar was hit by
a car near Harlan in southwest Iowa. Scattered cougar
sightings have continued around the state.
The road-killed cougar was declawed, indicating it
was an exotic pet. Iowa Department of Natural Resources
biologists find that many reported sightings and plaster
track casts often turn out to be those of large dogs.
in Iowa Pose Little Threat to People and Animals
By Steve Lekwa, Story County Conservation Director
cougar sightings in west central Iowa appear to be valid,
however. Biologists say there may be a few free-ranging
cougars living in Iowa.
They can’t verify whether these animals are escaped
pets or are truly wild.
The smaller bobcat has breeding populations in Iowa’s
major wooded river valleys, particularly in southeast
Iowa. Bobcats eat small mammals such as rabbits, while
cougars eat prey up to the size of deer. Domestic animals
are seldom taken and human attacks are rare.
Cougars are extremely rare east of the Rocky Mountains,
and even bobcats are seldom seen. All American wild
cats are nocturnal, and they wander in a wide territory
that may cover several counties. They live alone except
for mothers and their young. They pose little threat
to most Iowa people, pets, or livestock, but owners
may wish to keep small animals inside at night if a
cougar sighting has been confirmed.
Law Protects Bees from Harmful Pesticides
By Linda Nelson, Dallas County Extension Education
you know that owners of bees (apiaries) in Iowa are
protected by Iowa law? To be protected, the Administrative
Code of Iowa, Chapter 25, section 45.31(206), says bee
owners must register with the Iowa Department of Land
Stewardship (IDALS) by April 1st of each year.
No more than 30 days after April 1st, IDALS reports
this information to county Farm Service Agencies (FSA).
This information is then available to local pesticide
What does this mean for honey producers? Prior to
applying any pesticide that is toxic to bees, the applicator
must check with the FSA office or IDALS to determine
the location of hives. If the field or registered “bee
yard” is within a two-mile radius of any registered
apiary, the applicator must notify the owner or the
owner’s family at least 24 hours and no more than
72 hours prior to application. If the bee keeper and
the applicator both agree, the pesticide may be applied
earlier than 24 hours or later than 72 hours after notification.
Bees are beneficial insects that help farmers pollinate
their crops. Apiarists may keep bees for their honey
or to assist in the production of crops such as apples.
Whatever the reason, the state of Iowa has recognized
that bees are important to agriculture and have made
this effort to protect them.
For more information about Iowa agriculture, visit
the IDALS Web site, www.agriculture.state.ia.us.
To find your local FSA office, look under United States
Government in the white pages of your phone book.
Time for Fall Lawn Care
By Richard Jauron, ISU Extension Horticulture Specialist
Late October and early November are excellent
times to fertilize your lawn. Broadleaf herbicides are
most effective when applied to weeds. Because the leaves
on the weeds have already curled and died, this year
herbicides may not be very effective. However, you can
apply them on established lawns until early November.
Q. What can I do if my lawn needs reseeding
A. Fall is the best time to renovateand reseed weak
or damaged lawns. If you were waiting to reseed your
lawn, dry conditions may actually help. The dormant,
straw-like grass can easily be power raked or verticut
to make a good seed bed. If the ground is too hard for
the power rake to nick the soil, water the lawn two
days before the verticutting and seeding operation.
Verticut, seed, fertilize, and water
before the end of September and you should be able to
completely rejuvenate your lawn this fall.
For more information on lawn care, stop
by your local ISU
Extension office and ask for PM-1057, Maintenance
Fertilization of Turfgrasses, or check out the Horticulture
and Home Pest Newsletter at www.ipm.iastate.edu/ipm/hortnews/.
Cautious Stain Removal Keeps Clothing Safe and Usable
By Joy Rouse, Warren County Extension Education
Living on an acreage means you may come in contact
with equipment or chemicals that could stain your clothes.
Here are a few common problems you might experience.
Gasoline, diesel fuel, and motor oil
Safety Note: Clothing is flammable, but when soaked
with fuel it is even more dangerous if exposed to a
flame or ignition source.
Pretreatment is important. Use detergent-based stain
removers, not solvent-based ones. If pretreatment products
are not available, apply a heavy-duty detergent or powdered
detergent mixed with water. Make a paste and work it
into the stain.
After pretreatment, wash the garment in the hottest
water that is safe for the fabric with the recommended
amount of detergent for a regular load of laundry. Rinse
and inspect before drying. Do not place garment in the
dryer if you still smell fuel. Air clothing outdoors
until fuel smell is gone and/ or repeat the pretreatment
If full-strength liquid concentrate spills on clothes,
handle them with rubber gloves and discard the clothing
immediately. Always wash pesticide-stained clothing
separately. Follow these steps when laundering the clothing.
- Wash pesticide-soiled clothing as soon as possible
after wearing to achieve maximum removal of pesticide
- Prerinse or presoak the pesticide-soiled clothes
before washing and do not reuse the water. If your
washing machine has a prerinse cycle, use it.
- Use hot water to wash. To save energy, use cold
water to rinse.
- Use either a heavy-duty liquid detergent or the
amount of powdered detergent that is recommended by
the manufacturer for heavily soiled loads.
- Wash only a few items at one time, use the highest
water setting, and do not over crowd the washer.
- Set the washer at the recommended setting for heavily
soiled clothes, usually 10-12 minute wash with rinse
cycles following. Never use the short cycles recommended
for knits or delicate fabrics.
- After washing pesticide-soiled clothes, hang them
outdoors on a line in the sun to dry because sunlight
can degrade some pesticides or use the high heat setting
on your dryer. Pesticides tend to be volatile so hot
air helps reduce contamination.
- After washing a load of pesticide-soiled clothes
and before using your washing machine for other family
laundry, run the machine through a complete cycle
full of water and detergent without any clothes to
remove trace amounts of pesticide that may be in your
For more information on stain removal, visit the ISU
Extension Answerline Web site at www.extension.iastate.edu/answerline/.
Two Extension publications that detail stain removal
also are available: Quick ‘n Easy Stain Removal
858), and What to do when clothes are soiled with