Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Carve and taste fresh pumpkins

Just like leaf peeping, carving and tasting pumpkins is an expected fall treat in the High Country. Field pumpkins, which are bred for jack-o'-lanterns, tend to be too large and stringy for baking, and not as sweet as baking varieties. Pumpkins are members of the squash family.

Similar to pumpkin baking varieties, there are many types of winter squash that grow well here, including Acorn, Spaghetti, Butternut, Blue Hokkaido, Hubbard, Kobocha, and Delicata. Go ahead and stock up, since if stored in a cool place, they last for up to three months. 

Nutritionally, one cup of mashed pumpkin contains only 49 calories, but boasts 245% of your recommended daily value for vitamin A, converted from the brilliant orange beta-carotene. Vitamin A is essential for eye health and help the retina absorb and process light. This large amount of A also helps your body fight infections, viruses and infectious diseases. Plus, pumpkin is packed with nearly 20 percent of the recommended daily amount of daily vitamin C, which may help you recover from colds faster. People who eat a beta-carotene-rich diet may have a lower risk of some types of cancer, including prostate and lung cancer.

A five pound pumpkin or winter squash should yield around 4½ cups mashed. This may be used in all recipes calling for canned pumpkin.

Here is an easy way to transform an uncooked winter squash into the puree used in baking:
Pumpkin puree for recipes
Scrub with a vegetable brush under running water just before cutting. Cut in half and discard the stem section and stringy pulp.
In a baking dish, place the two halves face down. Add an inch of water to the dish.
Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 1½ hours, or until tender.
Once it has cooled, scoop out the flesh and puree or mash it.

You can refrigerate your fresh pumpkin puree for up to three days, or store it in the freezer up to a year, enabling you to enjoy fall pumpkins for months to come.

This recipe is moist, not too sweet, and freezes well.
Winter squash bars
2 cups cooked and pureed winter squash or pumpkin
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
Beat together in a mixing bowl.

1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Stir together, then mix in with other ingredients. Pour into sprayed 11 x 17 inch jelly roll or similar pan. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 25 – 30 minutes.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Fall Watauga Operation Medicine Cabinet Success and Project Lazarus!

Another successful Watauga County Operation Medicine Cabinet this past Saturday! Thank you to our wonderful law enforcement for supporting this valuable community program, including; Watauga County Sheriff's Office, Foscoe Police Department and Volunteer Fire Dept, Blowing Rock Police Department & Boone Police Department! Thank you to all in the community who came out to support the event! Results: 37,722 pills, 5,826 sharps, 327oz of liquids collected and incinerated!

Sheriff L.D. Hagaman deposits the thousands of pills collected on Saturday in the incineration barrel.

If you forgot about Saturdays collection, no worries!  There are options!  

1.) Appalachian State University Operation Medicine Cabinet this Friday, October 31 from 11am to 2pm in the Solarium Lobby at the Plemmon's Student Union.  

2.)  Project Lazarus Mailboxes are now located in the lobbies of the Boone Police Department and the Watauga County Sheriff's Office and you can drop off your unused, expired meds any time! 
The new Project Lazarus mailboxes located in the Boone Police Department and Watauga County Sheriff's Office Lobbies. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Watauga County Environmental Technology Tour

High Country Environmental Technology Tour:  Come see environmental technology being put to use in Watauga County.

When:  Nov. 13th from 1:00-4:00p.m.

Stops on the tour:
Boone Wetlands:  Wendy Patoprsty, Natural Resource Agent Watauga Extension Service will give background on how the wetlands were constructed, how the wetlands function to protect our water, she’ll show us wetland plants and how she propagates them.  She will also discuss other ongoing water mitigation projects in the Watauga County area.
ASU Recycling Facilities:  Grant Powers, Recycling Coordinator for ASU Physical Plant, will show us what goes on behind the scene in the ASU recycling department.  Using information gathered in the 2013 Waste Audit, they have developed new methods to handle large volumes of recyclable materials to implement new and innovative ways to reduce landfill waste and work towards the goal of zero landfill waste on campus and at football games.
ASU Composting Operations:  Eric Dendy will show us how ASU is increasing the amount of compostable materials that are recovered from the waste stream.  They are also working with vendors to reduce the use of materials such as styrofoam and increase the amount of compostable materials.  We will see how they handle large volumes of material through the composting process to produce a product that is usable here on the ASU campus.
ASU Appropriate Technology Greenhouse:  This greenhouse is located at the top end of the Watauga County landfill.  Graduate Students will show us how they are studying the use of solar thermal panels, anaerobic digesters and compost heating systems.  Wind power along with waste heat from the biovolitization is a possible means that local growers could feasibly heat a greenhouse for winter food and ornamental production in the high country.  

Where: Meet on the Boone Greenway Pavilions at the Clawson-Burnley Park off Hunting Hills Lane, Boone.  Click here for directions to the park (scroll down and you will see a map on the Explore Boone website)
Please call The Watuaga Extension Office at 828-264-3061 by Nov. 12th to let us know you if plan on attending, transportation will be provided or you may caravan to the sites.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

59th Annual Watauga Farm City Banquet

The 59th Annual Watauga County Farm City Banquet will be held Thursday, November 6th, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the Boone United Methodist Church.
The theme for the 59th Farm City Banquet is “Barns: Outstanding in their Field” .
Following a local food supper, we will recognize individuals for their contributions and support of our local agricultural economy. We will also have door prizes that will be given out at the end of the celebration.
Each year the public are asked to nominate outstanding people that YOU know have made a positive impact on youth, agriculture, and our community. A list of awards and application forms can be downloaded here or picked up from the Extension office at 971 West King Street in Boone. Completed applications can be mailed or dropped off to the Extension Center or e-mailed to Kathy_Lee@ncsu.edu by Friday, October 17, 2014.
Please bring a canned food item to donate to area food banks.
We look forward to you being a part of this wonderful collaboration as we celebrate the bonds that unite our urban and rural communities.
Tickets are available at the Cooperative Extension Office, 971 W. King Street, Boone, N.C., Adult $10, Children 6-12 $5 and Children five and under are free.
If you have questions, please contact us at 828-264-3061.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Watauga County Operation Medicine Cabinet

Fall 2014 Drug Take-back Days

Help us keep pharmaceutical and control-substance drugs off the streets and out of the rivers! No questions will be asked, and any prescription and over-the-counter medications and medical supplies can be turned in anonymously. For more information, please call the Watauga County Cooperative Extension 828-264-3061.
Saving our kids and rivers from drugs



Saturday, October 25th

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

  • Food Lion, Boone (Blowing Rock Rd)
  • Food Lion, Deep Gap (HWY 421)
  • Food Lion, Blowing Rock
  • Foscoe Fire Department 

Spooktacular Bats

I love Halloween, not only because it’s my birthday, but also because there is candy everywhere!!!  Not to mention all the costumes and decorations  - You begin to really know that fall is here! 
Seeing all the bat d├ęcor around town makes me think about how awesome bats are in our environment and how much they do for us!  According to NRCS, bats are the single most important controller of night-flying insects, including mosquitoes, moths, and beetles. For example, a single little brown bat can catch up to 600 mosquitoes in an hour. Watching bats fly around light posts catching bugs can be an interesting nighttime activity.

A bat house in your yard will help attract bats and provide them with much-needed roosting habitat. The house should be placed on a pole at least 15 feet high in a spot that receives sun most of the day. Tree trunks are usually too shady for bat boxes. Some bat species such as gray bats, red bats, and hoary bats will use shrubs and trees for roosting under loose bark or in cavities.
Here are instructions on how to build your own bat box.....
Build a bat house directions

It's not particularly good to have bats living in your home, so here are directions from NCSU Cooperative Extension on how to exclude bats from a dwelling....  Bat Exclusion Directions

For more information about bats visit Bat Conservation International  http://www.batcon.org/

Many species of bats migrate in the fall and hibernate throughout the winter months in caves, mines, or buildings. If disturbed during hibernation, their metabolism is increased, depleting fat reserves and reducing their chances of survival.

Information for this article is from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the USDA.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Watauga County Household Hazardous Waste Day

If you have Household Hazardous Waste you can drop it off at the Watauga County Sanitation Department (336 Landfill Rd. Boone) on October 25th from 9am to 2pm.  Items that will be accepted include: paint, household batteries, household cleaners, pesticides, oils, antifreeze, gasoline, propane tanks, lighter fluid, lab packs, oxidizers, florescent bulbs, and mercury.  If you have any questions please contact the Sanitation Dept. at 828-264-5305.

Sponsored by Watauga County Sanitation Dept, Watauga County Cooperative Extension, NC Department of Agriculture with assistance from the Watauga County Maintenance Department and the Town of Boone.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Grants Available For Watauga County Farmers

WNC AgOptions intent to apply deadline Oct. 24, 2014
Application deadline Nov. 21, 2014;

Western North Carolina farmers now have the chance to apply for farm diversification grants two separate times in the next two years. The N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission recently funded WNC Agricultural Options through 2016, guaranteeing that WNC farmers will receive a total of $340,000 in small grants in the next two application cycles.

WNC AgOptions awards farmers who are diversifying or expanding their operations $3,000 and $6,000 grants to offset the risk of trying a new venture. 
The upcoming application deadline is Nov. 21. All applicants should contact their Cooperative Extension Agents by Oct. 24 to set up an appointment to discuss their projects. Applications are available at www.wncagoptions.org and at local Cooperative Extension Centers. 

Applicants are encouraged to attend an information session 5:30p.m. to 7p.m. on October 16 at the Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center in Mills River. Program leaders will offer an overview of the program, review requirements for applying, and give tips for writing applications. See http://www.wncagoptions.org/2015-grant-information-session/ for more details. The Watauga County Extension van will be traveling to this information session, and will leave from the Watauga County Extension Center at 3:00 PM on Thursday, 10/16. Interested growers who would like to ride along should contact Richard Boylan (richard_boylan@ncsu.edu) to reserve a seat in the van. 

WNC AgOptions offers grants to farmers in the following counties/units: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Caldwell, Cherokee, Clay, Cleveland, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, Watauga and Yancey counties as well as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Interested farmers who live outside of this coverage area should contact RAFI-USA's Tobacco Communities Reinvestment Fund, also exclusively funded by the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission. See www.ncfarmgrants.org.

The administrator of WNC AgOptions is WNC Communities, a non-profit organization that has been improving agriculture in the region since 1947. WNC Communities provides a unique forum for leaders in western North Carolina to carry out innovative programs to improve the quality of life for rural communities and to enhance the agriculture economy.

"WNC Communities is delighted to serve as administrator for WNC AgOptions," said L.T. Ward, Vice President of WNC Commuities. "We are grateful to the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission and North Carolina legislators for their support throughout the past eleven years. We are extremely pleased the Commission has made a two year commitment, which is confirmation of their confidence in the success of this important and effective program."

Members of the WNC AgOptions steering committee include: representatives from N.C. Cooperative Extension, N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services–Marketing Division, WNC Communities, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and other leaders in agribusiness. For more information, see the following: WNC Agricultural Options: www.wncagoptions.org; N.C. Cooperative Extension Centers: www.ces.ncsu.eduN.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission:www.tobaccotrustfund.org; WNC Communities: www.wnccommunities.org.

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In Watauga County, growers interested in developing grant proposals should contact one of the following Extension Agents (no later than 10/24!):
Fruit, Vegetable, Herb, Medicinal, or Mushroom projects: Richard Boylan - richard_boylan@ncsu.edu
Livestock projects: Eddy Labus - eddy_labus@ncsu.edu
Christmas Tree projects: Jim Hamilton - jim_hamilton@ncsu.edu

Monday, October 6, 2014

National 4-H Week

As a 4-H agent, promoting 4-H can generate some ambivalence.  Most people have an image of 4-H, either based on their past experience or some pastoral image that appears to have been successfully imprinted upon society.  It seems that most everyone has a picture of 4-H and what it has been or should be.  The 4-H clover is said to be one of the most recognizable emblems.  The converging of the past and agriculture with the present-day 4-H creates a varied mix.  A person entering 4-H today with no previous knowledge of the organization might see an emphasis on science and technology; robotics and GPS are hot topics.   What a contrast!  So, what is 4-H?  The author of this article, describes some of the conflict.  His understanding of 4-H is that it is a youth development organization.  Someone else disagrees, insisting that 4-H is an agricultural education organization.