Unpredictable Fall Weather Impacts Kansas Farmers

After An Already Unpredictable Year, Fall 2018 Has Farmers Wishing They Weren't In Kansas Anymore

Most farmers know to expect the unexpected, but how long do they have to withstand getting knocked off their feet?

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After a long winter, unusual spring rainfall patterns and summer drought, farmers knew that their incomes in 2018 would be affected. The USDA even expected the farm sector net farm income in 2018 to decline $9.8 billion (13 percent) from 2017. Worse yet, the USDA predicted that "total production expenses, including operator dwellings, are forecast to increase $11.8 billion."

How is a farmer supposed to break even when production expenses increase, and their incomes decrease?

Farmers feed the world. But what happens when farmers can't feed their livestock or afford to plant crops? This is a question that all too many farmers, not just in Kansas, are having to ask themselves.

Unpredictable weather conditions increase how difficult it is for farmers to survive.

From December 25th, 2017 to January 8th, 2018 temperatures dropped to more than 25 degrees below normal in some areas. This can be devastating for livestock producers.

Colder temperatures mean that chores require added effort since water sources must be thawed. Even worse, imagine walking outside to see that a cow had her calf only for the calf to catch pneumonia or freeze to death.

Most farmers know to expect the unexpected, but how long do they have to withstand getting knocked off their feet?

After a dry, harsh winter, farmers faced unusual spring rainfall patterns. Farmers knew that if they didn't get rain in spring, the drought from 2017 would get worse in 2018. Unfortunately, what the farmers knew became true.

In July 2018, Kansas Governor Jeff Colyer updated the Drought Declaration for Kansas counties. This update had 50 counties in emergency status, 27 in warning status and 28 in watch status.

All 105 counties in Kansas were in drought or abnormally dry.

This led to livestock water and feed shortages, struggling crops and overall anxiety about how farmers would survive. Unfortunately, farmers should have been careful with what they wished for during this time.

Heavy rain hit parts of Kansas in September and caused flooding. Flooding that would kill crops and slow production since farmers couldn't walk in their fields without getting stuck, let alone replant crops using heavy machinery.

What farmers didn't know is that "fall" would continue to make things worse.

Fall, if you can even call it that, has seemed more like winter for Kansas farmers. Kansans were hit with unusually early snow October 15th that broke a record set 120 years ago for Kansas City.

Fall crops like soybeans were looking hopeful for farmers until unusual weather conditions led to harvest delays. To make things even worse, pod shattering can occur before soybeans are even harvested when there's alternation of dry and wet periods.

Since farmers haven't been able to harvest soybeans as anticipated, they haven't been able to plant some of their wheat as hoped.

The USDA sets final planting dates which are the dates when crops must be initially planted to be insured for the full production guarantee or amount of insurance per acre. Crops planted after these dates are in the "late planting period" and are ineligible for full insurance protection.

This means that farmers are losing money every day that they are unable to get into the fields. Consequently, many farmers are wondering what their next move should be. But one thing is certain.

After an already unpredictable year, fall 2018 has farmers wishing they weren't in Kansas anymore.

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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This Earth Day, Talk About Climate Change Instead Of Just Admiring The Flowers

Earth Day is about more than planting trees.

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I'm going to be honest with you: this article was hard for me to write. It took a heavy dose of reality and a lot of deep thought for me to form the right words regarding climate change. Climate change is a large and complex issue with many different sides and arguments. No matter what words people write or say, there will always be one person who will deny the scientific evidence of climate change. There will be people who will continue to believe that climate change is a conspiracy theory and others who simply believe that it is a thing the world should not be concerned about, that it is supposed to happen.

We need to talk more about climate change. I never realized how little I was educated about climate change until I got to college. During the first semester of my freshman year, I took a plant biology course. It's pretty customary that with biology comes talk of climate change. However, the talks we had in this course about climate change were like nothing I really ever have heard before. We talked about the overwhelming effects climate change has already had and will have on our planet if we do nothing. More importantly, though, we talked about what would happen to our planet if we took action and initiative to slow the effects. Our professor showed us the documentary "Before the Flood." This powerful piece highlights the causes of climate change, what initiatives are being put in place throughout the world, and what we need to do as a human race to slow the effects of climate change.

Not only did we talk about climate change in my biology class, but we also talked about it in my English class. In the past, issues with the Earth were only discussed in science classes like biology or geology. The fact that climate change is now a topic of discussion in humanity courses like English is something to make note of. It shows that we are coming to realize how we have been lacking as a society to discuss our changing climate and its consequences.

Some of the consequences are impending, and some are already occurring. According to the documentary I mentioned earlier, "Before the Flood," our world has already seen a 1.5 degrees Celcius increase in temperature because of carbon pollution. This may not seem like a big deal, but these few degrees have led to the ice caps melting at a rate that will make them disappear within the next decade. Along with this, sea levels have been rising three times faster than two decades previously. We have also seen the oceans becoming more acidic, likely to double over the next century, which means more and more marine life will be killed. The jet streams, which are the air patterns that typically drive where weather patterns will head, are becoming trapped, which leads to more polar vortexes and extreme weather. Going along with weather patterns, hurricanes are becoming more intense because of the warming ocean waters, and because there has been a 70 percent increase of downpours in the northern United States, rivers are more likely to flood. The opposite, however, is happening to some other rivers. There are rivers out in the Western part of the United States, like the Colorado River, that are disappearing because of droughts and increasing temperatures.

These are the effects we are already seeing just in the United States. In the future, we can expect to see even more droughts throughout the entire world, not just in the Sahara or deserts. Acute diseases, like asthma and allergies, will become deadly due to air quality worsening. Not to mention, diseases we haven't seen in centuries, like the bubonic plague, may resurface. Heat waves will become more prominent, which will lead to even more droughts. Access to food and water will likely decrease due to a third of the farmland that produces meats, vegetables, grains, etc. being dried out by the end of the century. The wildfires we are experiencing out in the Western United States are likely to become more uncontrollable, causing the government to spend more tax dollars toward fixing these natural disasters. Economic collapses, cities becoming flooded, wars and conflicts, species and ecosystems disappearing... the list of what we could encounter in the future goes on and on.

All of these effects seem terrifying, and they are. From what you just read, it may look like our world is doomed and that there is no hope, yet there is! By talking more openly about climate change, we can help slow or prevent these scary effects. To help our environment, we don't have to do big elaborate tasks. We can do little things, like recycling, walking or biking to a destination instead of driving, eating more chicken or turkey instead of beef, using less plastic, and/or taking shorter showers.

We haven't been talking enough about climate change, but that is changing. The effects of climate change are scary; it puts an idea in our head that makes it seem that there is no hope for our future. But because of conversation and discussion, there is hope for our world. The Paris Climate Agreement has had top leaders of various nations coming together and discussing solutions for climate change and for our planet.

Try to have more conversations with your friends, your family, or classmates about climate change. It may seem awkward to talk about climate change out of nowhere (and it kinda is), but try to incorporate it into discussions somehow. Encourage others to take cleaner practices to their daily routines and encourage them to keep the conversation going with people they know. Little things like talking to others can, and will, make all of the lasting difference for our world.

Make this Earth Day more than just a day where you look at the pretty trees and flowers. Make it a day where you work to save the pretty trees and flowers around you.

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