Living the Country Life
Living the Country Life is a special 95.3 WIKI program full of ideas and inspiration for your place in the country.
Host Jodi Henke shares tips from experts across the United States to help you around your acreage. If your favorite station doesn't carry the show, call them and ask for it!
Living the Country Life airs twice each Monday through Friday on 95.3 WIKI. The show at 9:30 a.m. is presented by Sound Hearing Solutions in Madison. The 3:30 p.m. program is presented by Centra Credit Union.
We'd like to feature you on the radio show! Send us an email at email@example.com and tell us all about you and your place in the country.
Gardening with your senses
Get the most out of your garden by choosing plants that enliven your senses Listen here to the radio mp3Jodi HenkeI have a lilac bush that is probably one of the ugliest I’ve ever seen, but when I bury my nose in the flowers and drink in that amazing smell, it doesn’t matter what they look like. We can deepen our sensory experiences in the garden by planting for sight, taste, feel, smell, and sounds that are important to us. Kelly Allsup is an Extension horticulture educator at the University of Illinois, and has developed a sensory garden program. She says during her classes, she takes students through an imagination exercise where they pretend they’re in a garden, and thinking about their memories and senses. "Think about what does the sky look like, what flowers do you see, what do you smell? I have them pretend to touch plants in the garden and they have to tell me what that feels like, then we talk about the sounds," says Allsup. "Then at the very end, I kind of bring in that nostalgia." Allsup says going through this exercise has caused some gardeners to reevaluate what they’re planting. Sure, flowers are pretty, but is that what deepens your sensory experience in the garden? "I think we need to go beyond sight because when you walk into a garden center or greenhouse, everything looks good," she says. "But, how are you going to interact with these plants? Speaking of my father in the last few years of his life, if the plant did not smell good, he was not going to plant it." Allsup says when children are involved in interactive activities such as digging in the soil and listening to what they hear in the garden, they’re more likely to appreciate nature and the outdoors. Listen here to the radio mp3
Solar electric tractors
Planting, maintenance, and other chores can be done by tractors powered by electricity from the sun Listen here to the radio mp3Photo courtesy of Steve HeckerothJodi HenkeFarm equipment innovator Steve Heckeroth has been tinkering with designs to build electric vehicles for 26-years. Small and mid-sized farmers from all over the world and share his enthusiasm for reducing their use of fossil fuel. Heckeroth’s company, Soletrac, is building utility tractors and row crop tractors for farmers who want zero emission power from renewable energy. There are no hydraulics on his tractors, yet a three-point hitch in the back and a hitch on the front allows farmers to use any category-one implements. Heckeroth says the motors are high torque and low speed. "Their maximum power is at 1800 RPM which is the RPM that diesel motors like to run at. But they have to get up to that speed before they have the power and the torque, so you don’t have that instant torque that you have with an electric motor," says Heckeroth. "And that makes a huge difference in the feel of the motor, even though the horsepower may not be as much." Heckeroth holds the patent for exchangeable battery packs that make it easy to extend the tractor’s daily work hours. And there are several charging options. "You can charge them right off the grid with a 220 charger, it’s about a 6 hour charge. We’ve got one that will charge two batteries at 50 amps, or one battery at 100 amps," he says. "If you charge the battery at 100 amps, it’ll take 3 hours to charge the battery pack. You can charge from a solar array and then hook it up to an inverter that charges the batteries." Heckeroth’s utility tractor is available now, and he is taking orders for the larger row crop tractor which will be available at the end of the year. Listen here to the radio mp3
Their large, fuzzy bodies know how to shake it when they’re courting a flower Listen here to the radio mp3Jodi HenkeThere aren’t many insects as captivating as the hefty, fuzzy bumblebee. Honeybees get all the pollinator attention, but bumblebees are an excellent alternative or a supplemental pollination source of many crops. Elaine Evans is an Extension educator at the University of Minnesota. She says on a bee-to-bee basis, bumblebees are more efficient than honeybees and aren’t as picky about their foraging conditions. "They’re bigger and fuzzier, they can collect more pollen on their bodies, so more pollen gets moved to other flowers. Bumblebees also are more tolerant of bad weather, whereas honeybees are a little bit more picky about when they’ll go out," says Evans. "They also have a really long foraging day. So pretty much from the time that the sun comes up till after the sun sets they’re still out until it gets too dark." Evans says bumblebees have evolved alongside flowering plants and have developed interdependent relationships with many of these plants. They especially excel at pollinating tomatoes, blueberries, squash and pumpkins because of a behavior called “buzz pollination.” "There’s some flowers where the pollen is kind of stuck in the anthers. Some bees will go in and grab that anther and shake the pollen off, and that’s what those flowers need to get better pollination," she says. "Honeybees don’t do that, bumblebees do." Bumblebees get all their nutrition from flowers, so plant flowers, trees, and shrubs to provide a constant source of blooms from early spring to fall. Encourage nesting potential by leaving some areas of un-mown grass and untilled areas. Bumblebees prefer to nest in clumps of grass above ground or in holes below ground. Learn more about bumblebees and their role in pollination Listen here to the radio mp3
Fixing garden drainage
After it rains, the water is supposed to sink into the soil, not sit on top of it Listen here to the radio mp3Photo courtesy of Iowa State UniversityJodi HenkeWe all have those spots in the garden that don’t ever seem to dry out. These areas are hard on plant roots due to low oxygen levels in the soil. Poor water drainage can result from a number of reasons, including heavy clay soil, a lot of compaction, or low spots where water naturally collects and stays on the surface. Dennis Patton is an Extension horticulture agent at Kansas State University. He says you could work in organic matter and topsoil to build up the area, and create a berm to redirect water flow. There are ways to improve drainage below the soil surface, too. "That usually involves something called a French drain, or a perforated drain pipe. So basically you’re going into the soil and trenching, maybe 3,4-feet deep and then you’re putting a drain pipe in there that’s perforated. You usually encase that in some gravel or chat and then you backfill around that," says Patton. "So the goal is then by the trenching, you’ve opened up the soil to move down through that hard compacted clay." Patton says he’s also had success using a small tractor and posthole auger to bore holes through compacted clay soil. "And what you’ve done is you’ve punched through that transition zone that a lot of times in the soil prevents that water from going through it. So it’s almost like you’re punching holes in this blanket, so-to-speak," he says. "You’re giving then through natural gravity a place for that water to percolate on down deeper into the soil. And of course, you’re doing quite a few of these, maybe putting these every 3,4,5-feet into the garden." Raised beds are a wonderful alternative to in-ground gardening, and might be an easier solution to a pesky drainage problem. Find more tips for improving poor drainage Listen here to the radio mp3
Grazing Management For Wildlife
Pastures are more than just food for grazing livestock, they’re also habitat for wildlife. Listen here to the radio mp3Photo courtesy of University of NebraskaJodi HenkeMigratory birds and insects need a place to rest and raise their young in an area that’s not disturbed, has a diversity of plants, and something to eat. The pastures that livestock graze are the same ecosystems and habitats that grassland birds rely on. There are several grazing management techniques that can benefit both cattle and wildlife. Adam Janke is an Extension wildlife specialist at Iowa State University. He says the number one practice is rotational grazing. "As soon as you move cows off of one paddock and exclude them from it, that vegetation starts to change instantly, and then as it starts to grow back, wildlife will respond," he says. "We’ve seen really substantial improvements in grassland bird diversity on rotationally grazed pastures in Iowa, and also throughout the Midwest." Set aside a refuge area within the pasture where it’s not disturbed during May and June while birds are brooding. When livestock return, the young birds will be leaving the nest and old enough to get out of the way of large hooves. If you can, delay mowing until August first. Janke says another idea is to stockpile forages. "Leaving forages out in the pasture, out in the field to be used later in the season creates cover for a whole diversity of wildlife. I think this can be particularly useful for fall migrant birds, and they’re of course seeking cover where they can find flowering plants and seeds to fuel migration and also escape the elements," he says. These strategies also help the producer’s bottom line with more productive pastureland and less inputs. Find more tips on grazing management for wildlife Listen here to the radio mp3
2018 New Plant Varieties
You could almost think of 2018 as the “year of stripes” Listen here to the radio mp3Photo courtesy of National Garden BureauJodi HenkeLike most gardeners, I get tired of planting the same old stuff in the garden. Every spring I look for something new to try whether it’s a vegetable or flower. This year, you’re going to find lots of flowers and veggies with unusual color variations. Diane Blazek is the executive director of the National Garden Bureau. She says for example in both the pepper and tomato categories, the produce will be wearing stripes. "One is called “Tomato Artisan Maglia-Rosa”. It’s like a small, plum tomato and it’s red with orange stripes on it. Then we also have “Chef’s Choice Green” so it’s a big beefsteak tomato, but it has some striping on it that’s kind of green and kind of yellow," says Blazek. "We have a pepper that’s called “Candy Cane” and these are small sweet peppers that are striped." There is also a new orange pumpkin variety with mottled green stripes, and seeds that don’t have those tough hulls. Blazek says a lot of plant companies are working on flower alternatives to impatiens because of downy mildew problems the past few years. She says new varieties of begonias are expected to pick up the slack in shady gardens. "I think we have about 15 different varieties, so you name it. If you want bronze foliage, dark green foliage, light green foliage, if you want double flowers, single flowers, drooping flowers, you’re going to be able to find it this year, there’s no doubt about that," she says. Plant companies want you to have success in garden, so Blazek says while you can find lots of fun new varieties, plant propagators continue to breed for things such as drought tolerance and less maintenance. Click here to learn about the new flower and vegetable varieties for 2018 Listen here to the radio mp3
The Community Foundation's Competitive Grant Cycle will open June 1. The online applications must be recieved by Monday, August 6 at 4pm. If you're planning on submitting an application to our Competitive Grants Cycle, you're encouraged to join us at one of our Grant Cycle Workshops. At each workshop, we will be talking about the Foundation's grant cycle process, guidelines, how to put your organization's "best foot forward", and have a question & answer period. The workshops will be held from 10am-11am at the Community Foundation office on the following dates: Tuesday, April 10 Thursday, April 19 Tuesday, April 24 Thursday, May 3 Space is limited, so each session is open to 12 attendees. Organizations may have a maximum of two representatives. There is no cost to attend. Click the button below to register. Registrations are taken on a first come first serve basis. You may also register by calling Kelley Hoagland at 812-265-3327.at Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County
Story Time at the Madison Public Library 10am Tuesdays at Madison branch April 17-May 8, 2018 This story/activity time for children 6mo. - 35mo. includes rhymes, songs, musical instruments and more for babies and toddlers and their caregivers. This group meets for four weeks through May 8th. Participants do not have to attend all four weeks. Registration is required. Free.at Madison Public Library
Story Time for all ages at the Hanover branch of the Madison Jefferson County Public Library Thursdays 10am April 19- May 10 This fun story time includes books, songs, music shakers and crafts. All ages welcome. This group meets for four weeks through May 10th. Participants do not have to attend all four weeks. Registration is requiredat Hanover Public Library
Bamed Indiana’s sixth grade and second grade winners for public schools in the 2018 Zaner-Bloser National Handwriting Contest.