Monday, February 16, 2015

Tips For Protecting Your Backyard Birds From Avian Influenza

From the Utah State Department of Agriculture . . .
Backyard bird owners are advised to take steps to protect their flock from the highly infectious avian influenza or “bird flu.”  Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) was recently detected in waterfowl in Utah prompting state and federal veterinarians to reach out to domestic and commercial poultry owners to increase safety measures for their flocks.  HPAI spreads rapidly and has a high death rate in birds.  The discovery of HPAI in Utah poses a threat to the state’s $150 million dollar turkey, egg and chicken industry.
Bird owners are advised to adopt the follow measures:
1. Keep your distance. Restrict access to your property and your birds. If visitors have birds of their own, do not let them near your birds. Your birds should not have contact with wild birds and migratory waterfowl because they can carry germs and diseases.
2. Keep it clean. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after working with your birds. Wear clean clothes and scrub your shoes with disinfectant. Clean and disinfect equipment, including cages and tools, that comes in contact with your birds or their droppings. Remove manure before disinfecting equipment. Properly dispose of dead birds.
3. Don’t haul disease home. Buy birds from reputable sources so you know you’re getting healthy birds. Keep new birds separate from the rest of your flock for at least 30 days. If your birds have been to a fair or exhibition, keep them separated from your flock for 2 weeks after the event.

4. Don’t borrow disease from your neighbors. Do not share garden equipment or poultry supplies with your neighbors or other bird owners. If you do bring these items home, clean and disinfect them before they reach your property.
5. Know the warning signs. Early detection can help prevent the spread of disease. While it may be hard to tell if your bird has AI, when you check your birds frequently, you may be able to tell if something is wrong.
6. Report sick birds. Don’t wait. If your birds are sick or dying, call UDAF at (801) 538-7161. For dead wild birds, call USDA toll free at 1-866-536-7593.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Goal Setting

“Decided to cut hay. Started to harness up the horses and found that the harness was broken. I took it to the granary to repair it and noticed some empty sacks lying around. The sacks were a reminder that some potatoes in the cellar needed the sprouts removed. I went to the cellar to do the job and noticed that the room needed sweeping. I went to the house to get a broom and saw the wood box was empty. I went to the woodpile and noticed some ailing chickens. They were such sad-looking things that I decided to get some medicine for them. Since I was out of medicine, I jumped into the car and headed for the drugstore. On the way, I ran out of gas.”

Ever feel like this farmer? Staying focused on our goals will help us accomplish more in our lives, and accomplish the things most important to us.

These concepts can help us set worthwhile goals:

  • A goal is an anticipated accomplishment.
  • The value of a goal helps determine its priority.
  • Prioritizing goals means to put them in a desired order.
  • A calendar helps us schedule all that we need to accomplish.
Most successful people set goals. If we set long-range goals, then set shorter term goals, including daily tasks, that will help us accomplish the long-range goals, we will achieve the important things we set out to do to live more productive lives. Setting goals and working to achieve them every day helps us more effectively manage our time and gain control over our lives.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Building an Emergency Fund

Life rarely goes as planned. That's why it's always good to have an emergency fund in the bank.

Brad Smith, CEO of debt management company Rescue One Financial in Irvine, Calif., works with more than 100,000 clients trying to avoid bankruptcy.

"Many of them could have avoided enrolling in a debt management plan had they had any type of emergency fund set up," he says. "There are many people out there who are living so paycheck to paycheck that a blown transmission would send them into bankruptcy. An injured child or a natural disaster could easily be handled with additional funds."

Avoid letting unexpected expenses or events lead you to financial ruin. Build your emergency fund by using these tips:

Start building your emergency fund with a specific goal in mind. While your savings goal will depend on your income and expenses, a general rule of thumb is to save enough to cover four to seven months' worth of expenses.

"Everyone has wants, needs and desires when it comes to spending money," says Pete D'Arruda, financial radio show host, author and president of Capital Financial Advisory Group in Cary, N.C. "Make sure you have seven months' worth of emergency income available for the needs."

Kevin Gallegos, vice president of Phoenix operations for Freedom Debt Relief, says to focus on having enough to cover expenses when setting your savings goal, not on replacing your entire income.

"Remember, in an emergency, we don't fund vacations, fancy new clothes, dining out or other luxuries," he says.

While you may aim higher eventually, Smith recommends making small goals at first, such as saving $1,000 and working your way up to a reserve to cover several months' worth of expenses.

Your rainy-day emergency fund should be easily accessible, but not so easily accessible that you'll be tempted to make withdrawals for everyday spending.
"I like using an account away from my normal checking account to build a psychological wall between my spending habits and my emergency fund," says Ray Lucia, a Certified Financial Planner and nationally syndicated radio host. "Credit unions work well because they normally allow you to start with smaller amounts of money."

Online banks also are good locations for your emergency savings account because you can't just walk into the bank and withdraw your cash.

Danielle Marquis, adjunct professor of personal finance at Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, Colo., recommends keeping emergency funds in a combination of locations and/or saving accounts, including an online savings account, in savings bonds and as cash in a lockbox at home.

If you can't stomach keeping a significant amount of money in a standard savings account with a low interest rate, consider a money market account that allows withdrawals only at certain minimum levels, or purchase short-term certificates of deposit with three- or six-month terms on a regular basis. You'll earn some interest and be required to constantly reinvest.

Establish a monthly savings goal and make it part of your regular budget. Marquis recommends setting up an automatic monthly transfer, just as you would with the electric bill or fitness club membership, to ensure the money is saved each month.

"The forced savings should feel like a bill pay transaction that is done on the same day of every month," Smith says.

Paying yourself first through a direct deposit from your paycheck into your emergency fund account will help you build your fund steadily. But make sure you've created a balanced budget so you know you have enough money to save, says financial coach Matt Wegner of Matt Wegner Coaching in Sheboygan, Wis.
"Too many people direct deposit money in their savings accounts, only to turn around and pull the money back out to pay bills," he says. "A solid monthly spending plan can help avoid this situation."

 "An emergency fund is for the unexpected," says Carrie Coghill, a Barron's Top 100 financial adviser and the director of consumer education for FreeScore.com. "For example, appliances that stop working, getting laid off from a job, a long illness or an accident. You use an emergency fund for any expense you cannot foresee."

One of the most common problems people have with emergency funds is forgetting to plan for one-time expenses each year, Coghill says.

"People budget to save and put away an emergency fund, then they forget to budget for an annual insurance expense or car expenses, etc.," she says. "You can foresee your car insurance expense next November, for example, so it is not an emergency."

One way to avoid using the fund for nonemergencies is to make access to it somewhat difficult. "Do not get access to it via debit card," Smith says. "And if you are issued a checkbook, hide it."

"Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither is an emergency fund," Gallegos says. "Any action you can take to establish an emergency fund will do you good. If you transfer $10 to a savings account each week, you'll have $500 in a year."
Don't be afraid to start with a small amount of savings each month, but try to increase it whenever possible.

"When you pay off a credit card with a $50 monthly payment, increase your savings by that $50," says Gallegos. "With the same outflow you have today, you'll be paying yourself."

When you get a tax refund or commission check, add it to your fund, he says. And gradually boost your savings by selling items you don't need on eBay, holding a yard sale or putting change into a jar every evening.


"Save rather than blow your excess money," Gallegos says. "By stashing the extra, in addition to your regular predetermined amount from your budget, you'll see your savings soar."

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Power Outage Preparedness

Power outages can be common during the winter months. It is important to be prepared in case of an outage, as well as to know what to do during an outage to keep your family safe.

Rocky Mountain Power suggests preparing an outage kit. This could include ready to eat foods, a can opener, water, a battery-operated radio, a flashlight or lantern, extra batteries, a first-aid kit and blankets.

The following safety tips can help your family stay safe and comfortable during an outage:

  • Use only flashlights for emergency lighting. NEVER use candles during a blackout or power outage due to extreme risk of fire.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed to keep your food as fresh as possible. If you must eat food that was refrigerated or frozen, check it carefully for signs of spoilage.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances, equipment or electronics in use when the power went out. Power may return with momentary "surges” or “spikes” that can damage computers as well as motors in appliances like the air conditioner, refrigerator, washer or furnace.
  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage.
  • Do not connect a generator to a home's electrical system.  If you use a generator, connect the equipment you want to run directly to the outlets on the generator.
  • Listen to local radio and to a battery- or generator-powered television for updated information.
  • Leave on one light so that you'll know when your power returns.
  • Use a standard telephone handset, cellular phone, radio or pager if your phone requires electricity to work, as do cordless phones and answering machines. Use the phone for emergencies only. Listen to a portable radio for the latest information.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 for information—call only to report a life-threatening emergency. Use the phone for life-threatening emergencies only.
  • Put on layers of warm clothing if it is cold outside. Never burn charcoal for heating or cooking indoors. Never use your oven as a source of heat. If the power may be out for a prolonged period, plan to go to another location (the home of a relative or friend, or a public facility) that has heat to keep warm.
  • Eliminate unnecessary travel, especially by car. Traffic signals will stop working during an outage, creating traffic congestion.
  • Remember that equipment such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and elevators may not work during a power outage. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Build a 72-Hour Kit a Week at a Time

If the thought of putting together a 72-hour emergency kit is overwhelming, consider using a plan such as this. You can add one item a week and at the end of the year, you will be much closer to having a preparedness kit for your family. Of course, these are only suggestions -- feel free to substitute and customize for your personal needs. Be sure to check and rotate food items every 6 months.

Week:

  1. Check the batteries in your smoke detectors
  2. Select a suitable family sized 72 hour container
  3. Add 1 1/2 gallons water
  4. Add 10 $1 bills
  5. Add 1 blanket
  6. Add pocket utility knife
  7. Add a can opener
  8. Add 2 $5 bills
  9. Add 2 cans tuna or other canned meat
  10. Add 1 large roll of paper towels
  11. Add 4 rolls toilet paper
  12. Add 10 $1 bills
  13. Add 1 bar soap
  14. Add toothbrushes and toothpaste
  15. Add 1 container baby wipes
  16. Add 2 $5 bills
  17. Add 1-2 changes of clothing per person
  18. Add 1 48 oz. bottle of juice
  19. Add 1 can fruit and 1 can vegetables
  20. Add 10 $1 bills
  21. Add 1 box of matches
  22. Add 1 package hard candy
  23. Add 1 jar peanut butter
  24. Add 2 $5 bills
  25. Add paper plates
  26. Check smoke detector batteries and practice home escape routes
  27. Add 1 box crackers
  28. Add 10 $1 bills
  29. Add plastic utensils
  30. Add 1 100 hour candle
  31. Add 1 box graham crackers
  32. Add 2 $5 bills
  33. Add flashlight and set of spare batteries (check batteries every 6 months)
  34. Add hand sanitizer
  35. Add paper cups
  36. Add 10 $1 bills
  37. Add basic first aid kit
  38. Add 1 pound dried fruit
  39. Add 4 cups dried milk in zip lock container
  40. Add 2 $5 bills
  41. Add battery/solar powered radio
  42. Add any individual medical needs
  43. Add diapers, feminine hygiene items
  44. Add 1 entertainment element (books, magazines, handheld game)
  45. Add 1 hand shovel
  46. Verify that all family immunizations are current
  47. Add 1 large roll of aluminum foil
  48. Add 1 hand axe
  49. Add zip lock bags (variety of sizes)
  50. Add 1-2 boxes favorite cereal
  51. Add photocopies of personal documents
  52. Send 1 copy of personal documents to family member in separate location
You'll probably want more food, and want to personalize, but this will give you a great start!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fitness Variety

If you work out regularly, it's easy to fall into the habit of doing the same set of exercises all the time. Unfortunately, research has shown that when your body performs the same exercises repeatedly, your muscles adjust over time to make those exercises easier. While this might make your workout feel more comfortable, this comfort comes at cost. Eventually, your workouts won't offer your body as much of a challenge.
Why does this happen? It is reported that your body's muscular systems and other physiological systems adapt to a workout routine in only six to eight weeks. That means that if you don't change up your routine, you'll reach a plateau in your fitness level.
If you're dedicated to maintaining a healthy exercise regimen, it's important to diversify your workouts with new activities. A great way to accomplish this is to make sure that your physical activity covers the five main elements of fitness: aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility, core exercise, and balance training.

Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic or cardiovascular exercise is often what first comes to mind when you think about working out. It includes any type of endurance activity that increases your heart rate, uses large muscle groups, causes you to breathe faster, and maximizes the oxygen level in your blood.

You have any number of aerobic exercises to choose from, including walking, jogging, biking, skipping, swimming, aerobics, dancing, and more. Remember, it's important to keep changing up the type of exercise. If you always do the same aerobic workout in the same way, you'll reach a fitness plateau in two months or less.
To avoid this issue, try to vary the pace, distance, and intensity of your workouts. For example, instead of doing the same two- kilometer walk every day, try fifteen minutes of jogging on some days. . Then, add in a day of biking, or switch to swimming for a week. You can also mix easy days with hard days to vary the effort you put into your exercise.
Strength Training

When it comes to strength training, you'll find it hard to keep building muscle if you don't add variety. This is because resistance exercises like strength training require the administration of a stimulus (i.e. the weight), followed by your muscles' adaptation to that stimulus. Your muscles will only continue to strengthen if you continue to introduce a new stimulus that is progressively more challenging.

Fortunately, it's easy to add variety to your strength training workouts. Try to incorporate different types of exercise, from resistance machines at the gym to free or handheld weights. You can also incorporate push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, which require you to lift your own body weight.
Flexibility

Stretching and flexibility exercises are a cornerstone of complete fitness. When you lack flexibility, your movements are more limited. In turn, this causes your muscles to weaken. Taking time to improve your flexibility will help your muscles and joints move through a full range of motion.

The best way to maintain your flexibility is to include a stretching routine in your workouts at least three times each week. You have tons of options when it comes to stretching and flexibility exercises. To keep your workouts varied, you might try alternating between different stretching exercises practiced in yoga, which feature strong flexibility components. You can also work independently to stretch each major muscle group, including your arms, legs, back, shoulders, and neck.

Core Exercise

If your workouts focus mainly on aerobic exercise and strength training, then you're not getting a balanced workout. Core exercises - which work the muscles in your stomach, pelvis and lower back - are also crucial to good fitness. The key to core exercises is to use the abdominal muscles and trunk of your body without added support. And, to keep your core muscles strong, it's important to vary your workouts, just as you do with other types of training. Consider crunches (sit-ups), yoga, or weight machines that target core muscles. You might also enjoy abdominal exercises using a fitness ball as a bouncy alternative.

Balance Training

Balance is a component of fitness that tends to be overlooked. But as you age, proper balance becomes increasingly important to a well-rounded fitness program. Without good balance, you're more likely to fall or become injured, which could put all of your other exercise plans on hold.

There are a number of activities you can practice to improve your balance. Yoga is a popular option, and a great way to work out in a group setting. But it's also possible to practice balance on your own. Simple exercises such as standing on one leg for an extended period of time, and then switching to the other leg, can help improve your stability.
Put It in Practice: Keep Things Spicy

The best way to avoid a fitness plateau is to vary your workout routine continuously, being sure to include all five elements of fitness. Examine your most recent workouts and consider if any of the five elements are lacking. Then, diversify your workout by adding new activities that target the elements of fitness you need. For example, if you've only been going to aerobics classes, try adding weight training or make time for a yoga class. By adding variety to your workouts, you will keep yourself engaged and see the benefits in your healthy body.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bug-Out Dinner Buckets

If you're one who thinks stocking up on food storage is a good idea, Congratulations! You've probably got shelves full of food and water ready to go should you need it in an emergency. You may even have a portable stove. These are all great beginnings.
Well, here's an idea that may just help to supplement your food storage supply, so that if you had only 10 minutes to "grab & go" in order to evacuate your home, you could easily grab your "bug-out" dinner buckets, and be on your way. These buckets of food could supply you and your family with 30 to 60 dinners. Wow! Now that's preparedness.
Although you may not be one who eats out of cans frequently, remember, these are emergency meals, offering you sustenance and nutrition in an emergency. You'll be glad you thought ahead and that with very little cooking, you can enjoy a meal.
Let's walk you through the process so that you understand how to put your own "Bug-out" dinner buckets together . . .
Here are some of the recommended tools you'll need to get started:
·        6 to 12 5 or 6 gallon food grade buckets (depending on the size of your family). You'll need one bucket per menu plan
·        Gamma lids for each bucket (optional)
·        Vacuum sealer to seal your spice packets and dehydrated foods (optional)
·        1 Laminated recipe card for each bucket (plastic sleeves also work)

Think ahead and make smart decisions.
·        Consider purchasing freeze dried meats instead of canned. They have a 25
year shelf life, as opposed to 1-2 years.
·        Consider purchasing freeze dried vegetables over canned or dehydrated, as
their shelf life is also longer
.
·        Investing in a good vacuum sealer can help prolong the shelf life of your
foods, while making them more space friendly inside your buckets
.
·        6 months before your bug-out dinner buckets will expire, start to use up the
ingredients, and replenish with newer ones, just to make sure you're not
wasting your food supply.

Here are some basic steps to get you on your way:
·        Gather together 6 to 12 of your favorite dinner recipes.
·        Decide how you'll trade out fresh produce for dehydrated, freeze dried, or canned. For example, if your recipe calls for ground beef, consider purchasing freeze dried ground beef. If your recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, consider using canned or dehydrated tomatoes instead.
·        Decide how many dinners you can fit in a bucket, based on the bulk of your food. Typically 4-5 times the recipe fits perfectly into a 6 gallon bucket.
·        Browse your food storage shelves to see which ingredients you may already have that you can use in your bug-out dinner buckets.
·        Make a list of all of the missing ingredients you'll need to purchase at the store, then times those ingredients by the number of dinners you'll need to make. For example: If one of your dinner buckets is for Taco Soup, and each batch of taco soup needs 2 cans of corn, you'll need to have 10 cans of corn on hand in order to make that recipe 5 times. All of those taco soup
ingredients will go into 1 bucket, labeled "Taco Soup."
·        Make large labels for each of your buckets with the name of the dish.
·        Consider a "kid-friendly" bucket with favorite comfort foods-ramen, hard candy, gum, crackers, Nutella, cereal, peanut butter, applesauce, dried fruit, etc.
·        Gather paper goods, such as plates, napkins, bowls, cups, utensils, as well as cooking supplies needed in an emergency. These could all be stored in a bucket with a gamma lid as well, labeled "Paper Goods."
·        Gather extra cooking pots and utensils along with a simple butane stove and fuel. If you have a camp oven, make sure to have plenty of propane on hand for that.
·        Have plenty of water on hand (5 gallon blue containers are ideal for "bugging-out", and you'll need plenty of water to cook with.)
·        Practice making each meal straight from your bucket supply, to see if you're comfortable with the recipe, and make sure your family enjoys it
·        Be sure to mark the date you packaged your bug-out dinner buckets to make sure they get rotated regularly. (Usually every 2 years is adequate.) 

Here is a sample recipe:

Taco Soup

1 lb. freeze dried ground beef
1 Tbsp. dried onion
1 can tomato sauce
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans kidney beans
1 pkg. taco seasoning mix
beef bouillon
water

Pour boiling water over beef until crumbly. Drain. In a stock pot, combine all ingredients together and add water and beef bouillon if necessary. Cook 25 minutes until cooked through.

For 5 Meals:

1 can freeze dried ground beef
5 Tbsp. dried onion
5 cans tomato sauce
5 cans corn
5 cans diced tomatoes
10 cans kidney beans
5 pkgs. taco seasoning mix
1 cup beef bouillon