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a publication of Montana State University Extension Winter 2018

The use of livestock dogs has been increasing in the United States since the 1970s. p. 8 Whitney Klasna’s networking and efforts with ag organizations have helped her become a spokesperson for Montana agriculture. p. 14

LIVES landscapes

Choosing promise.

EDITORIAL COMMITTEE Mandie Reed Sara Adlington Adam Sigler Susan Anderegg Millie Veltkamp Jodie DeLay Josie Evenson Mat Walter Jesse Fulbright Wendy Wedum Emily Glunk Roubie Younkin LINE EDITOR Sara Adlington MANAGING EDITOR Jodie DeLay ART MSU Extension Communications Cover photo Kristin Bieber CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Sara Adlington Emily Meccage Barb Allen Dara Palmer Melanie Burner Brent Roeder Jodie DeLay Joel Schumacher Josie Evenson Stephen M. Vantassel Carol Fifer Mat Walter Marsha Goetting COMMENTS ABOUT LIVES & LANDSCAPES? E-mail us at:

Montana State University recently approved a new strategic plan to guide decision-making over the next seven years. Called, “Choosing Promise,” the plan includes specific goals and actions to meet the goals, as well as metrics that will be used to measure progress. The plan is built around six core values: excellence, integrity, inclusion, collaboration, curiosity and stewardship; and aligns behind MSU’s vision to “transform lives and communities in the people’s interest.” Identified within the plan are four “Grand Challenges of Montana.” These include caring for the environment, promoting wellness in communities, encouraging food and fuel security, and securing the future of Montana. MSU Extension, the outreach and engagement arm of the university, is proud to be working on challenges

including community leadership development, fire and drought, mental health, opioid use/misuse, diabetes prevention and management, and youth development. We continue to be active in making sure Montanans have access to healthy food through sustainable agriculture, as well as food preservation, gardening, and managing resources. We exist to provide a bridge between MSU and you. To view the new plan, visit: To share your ideas on how MSU Extension can serve your community, contact me at Sincerely,

Cody Stone is the Executive Director of MSU Extension and has worked in Extension for over 20 years, primarily in leadership and youth development programs.

THANK YOU TO THE FOLLOWING REVIEWERS Katelyn Andersen Art Nash, Jr. Steven Don Lacey Nevins Duke Elliot Mandie Reed Janis Fisher Mike Schuldt Andy Fjeseth Adam Sigler Amy Grandpre Barbara Smith Molly Hammond Cecil Tharp Carrie Johnson Megan Van Emon Clain Jones Kim Suta Wooding Kim Kompel Roubie Younkin Copyright © 2018 by Montana State University. All rights reserved.

a publication of Montana State University Extension Winter 2018 Vol. 2 No. 1

featured contributor

Excerpts from this magazine may be reprinted with permission from the Managing Editor. Please provide appropriate credit to Montana State University Extension and supply copies of printed materials to the editor. Opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration. Montana State University Extension is an ADA/EO/AA/Veteran’s Preference Employer and Provider of Educational Outreach. Common chemical and trade names are used in this publication for clarity of the reader. Inclusion of a common chemical or trade name does not imply endorsement of that particular product or brand of herbicide and exclusion does not imply non-approval.

Kristin Bieber

Kristin and her husband Cord are fourth generation Montana ranchers from the Brockway area. Their sheep operation, Skull Creek Targhees, has been using guard dogs for eight years. The dogs run the range with the registered and commercial Targhees year-round. Kristin’s photo, featured on the cover, is of 8-year-old Nada, likely an Akbash/Pyrenees cross who Kristin says, “has been an absolute life saver; probably the most reliable guard dog I’ve ever been around.”

contents Adjusting Feed Rations with Available Forage


Testing forage can help decisions about nutrients needed to supplement.

Beating the Bah Humbug Blues



Learn tips for limiting holiday stress and determining whether the seasonal gloom is depression.

Rewards and Risks of Houseplants


Consider selecting non-toxic house plants when children and pets are in the home.

Winter Home Health

2 on the cover


6 10 12

Indoor air quality should be considered in winter months.

Teaching Kids to be Wise Spenders

Wow, That's a Big Dog!

The use of livestock dogs has been increasing in the United States since the 1970s.

Giving kids the opportunity to make choices helps them become better money managers.

Featured Montanan: Whitney Klasna


Klasna’s networking and efforts with ag organizations have helped her become a spokesperson for Montana agriculture.

Featured Pest: Safe Use of Fumigants when Controlling Vertebrate Pests



12 12

Fumigants are effective but pose unique safety challenges for applicators.

18 Keeping Youth Engaged over Winter Break 18 Consider an Engine Block Heater 19 Salt can Damage Landscapes and Hardscapes around the Home 20 Master Gardener Q&A 21 Ask Steward



Lives & Landscapes is published quarterly by Montana State University Extension, and content is available online at To receive a free online subscription, or purchase a print subscription, visit: magazine. Have an idea for a story or a question for Ask Steward or our Master Gardeners? Email: or contact the managing editor at 406.994.2502.


landscapes Winter 2018


Adjusting feed rations with available forage


n recent years, many parts of Montana have had to deal with drought and other environmental conditions that create lower quality forage production. Many producers are forced to buy whatever forage they can acquire, which sometimes means lower quality. So what can be done to still meet livestock needs?

agriculture consultant can be of assistance. Animal needs will change based on many things such as age, production status, health status, and even environment. Therefore, it is important to start with the right required nutrient amounts. Upon receiving analysis results, you can begin applying the nutrients needed to the forage on hand.

The first thing that is critical in creating an adequately balanced ration is to get a forage sample. This will give an estimate of what nutrients are already available, and what nutrients will need to be supplemented. For information on how to collect a forage sample, refer to MontGuide Collecting a Forage or Feed Sample for Analysis (MT201610AG).

Forages that are considered lower quality, with higher fiber and lower crude protein (CP) and energy (often reported as TDN, or total digestible nutrients) will likely need to be supplemented, especially during the winter when many cows are in late gestation.

Knowing the required amounts of nutrients for an animal is important, and a local county Extension agent, beef or sheep specialist, NRCS consultant, or


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In forages lacking protein, animals respond very well to supplemental protein forms. A lick tub, block, or cake can often be helpful in meeting animal needs. However, using lick tubs or cake is not always a guarantee that all animals will get the

by Emily Meccage MSU Extension Forage Specialist


right amount every day. Research has shown that particularly in tub or block form, not every animal will visit the lick tub or block every day. And even when cake is fed daily, more dominant animals will often crowd out those animals that are lowerrank, decreasing the likelihood that they meet their individual needs. Ruminants do have the ability to eat several days’ worth of protein at once, so it can be hard to account for. Energy is another important nutrient that needs to be considered along with protein. If energy is inadequate, animals will start to lose body condition which can affect performance. Livestock require adequate amounts daily to maintain or account for increasing production, especially in late gestation, when the fetus has higher demands due to elevated growth. If forage does not have adequate energy concentrations, energy can be supplemented in forms such as added fat or grain. The forage analysis will help target exactly how much needs to be fed daily, to avoid overfeeding of supplements or supplemental feeds, and avoid decreased production. The additional expense of these supplements will easily outweigh the cost of possible production losses. Vitamins and minerals should also be carefully considered in livestock management. In forages that have higher fiber content and lower digestibility, vitamins and minerals are not as available as in more digestible forages. Again, having a quality forage analysis will help to evaluate the availability and amounts of these nutrients. Even in higher-quality forages, some minerals and vitamins may still be lacking, simply because they are in low supply in the soil. Supplementing with these minerals in adequate amounts, as well as ratios, is important to maintain optimal performance.

When trying to stretch out a low hay supply, ensure you are not feeding too little and affecting animals. General recommendations call for at least 1.5% of animal body weight to be fed daily in the form of forage dry matter. Another method to evaluate this is at least .7% of body weight should be fed as forage-NDF (Neutral Detergent Fiber), or fiber. This helps to create an adequate environment for rumination, and decreases risk of problems such as ulcers or acidosis. Feeding when it is cold out will change these requirements slightly, as it is recommended to increase the amount of fiber fed to avoid cold stress; this can be in the form of hay or straw. It is recommended that for every degree below an animal’s thermoneutral zone, forage should be increased by 1% of current diet, with 18ºF used as a common lower critical temperature for winter. For example, if the ambient temperature dips to 0ºF, feeding an additional 18% may be prudent to maintain body condition. Feeding lower quality forages in a ration is possible, but it is important to know the nutrient concentration of that forage in order to adequately balance the ration. Also knowing the herd’s daily nutrient requirements is imperative to maintain optimal production. Coupling low-quality forages with supplements and grains to balance out their needs will help to ensure optimum forage utilization as well as livestock performance. 


landscapes Winter 2018


Beating the Bah Humbug Blues

Have you been feeling like a Scrooge lately?

Is it just normal holiday stress or maybe something more? The holiday season can be a stressful time, full of many activities, celebrations, and happenings. We are bombarded with the best deals, difficult family members, drained checkbooks, and the pressure to be engaged wholeheartedly in the season. The perfect decor and gifts, the travel, and family can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and so ready for Spring. But how do you know if it is just holiday stress or something else? How do you cope with stress that is related to the holiday season?

Many of the stressors involving holiday activities can be better managed by taking care of yourself and changing perspective. Here are a few ways that can help decrease stress during the holidays so you feel more like Buddy the Elf than like Scrooge. §§ Let go of the perfection. There is no such thing as a perfect cookie or a perfect present. And remember that one CANNOT do it all! §§ Remember that it is OK to say no. Don’t attend that holiday party. Don’t think you have to make batches and batches of cookies. §§ Continue the routine, even throughout the holiday madness. Routine can provide comfort and security which in return help maintain emotional stability. §§ Identify the FREE things to love about the holiday season. Spend time participating in meaningful activities and experiences, not expensive trips or gifts. §§ Express negative feelings to someone you trust. It is OK to experience some inner Scrooge during the merriment. If this time of year is difficult due to challenges, such as grief or family conflict, label your feelings, give them respect, and talk to others for support. §§ Self care, self care, self care. Make sure you are eating healthy, getting out to enjoy nature, exercising, sleeping, drinking water, and participating in other wellness practices that help mind and body. What if your gloom seems to be more than holiday-related stress?

Sometimes you might find yourself experiencing overwhelming feelings and behaviors that come before the holiday season and last until the end of the wintery period. These feelings and behaviors may be symptoms of a mental health diagnosis, not just the weight of celebration. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.; DSM–5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013) states Major Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern, formally known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a mental health disorder which is characterized by the following symptoms occurring during the winter months:


a publication of Montana State University Extension

by Melanie Burner, LCPC Licensed Professional Counselor Teaming Together Counseling, Glasgow, MT


§§ Feeling blue/sad/depressed almost all day, every day for a period of two weeks or greater. §§ Losing interest in almost all activities. §§ Difficulties with sleep (typically oversleeping). §§ Increased appetite. §§ Negative feelings towards self and others. §§ Isolating yourself from loved ones and activities. §§ Fatigue. §§ Feelings of hopelessness. §§ Decreased ability to concentrate and make decisions. §§ Possible thoughts of wanting to die (suicidal ideation). The difference between Major Depressive Disorder with seasonal pattern and the typical holiday stress is the impact that it has on someone’s daily functioning. This may mean changes in relationships, occupational difficulties, or even a lack of participating in everyday activities. Also, the indicators of these depressive episodes will most likely occur nearly every day and affect one’s life in many ways compared to holiday stress which may come and go. Seasonal patterned episodes occur during all winter months, are present for a pattern of more than two years, and there is a lack of symptoms during warmer months. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the causes of these seasonal patterned depressive episodes have been attributed to a few factors. These factors are the changes in amount of daylight and how this affects your internal process in multiple ways, including sleep patterns. If you think you may be experiencing depression due to the winter months, the first step is to reach out to a primary care physician or a mental health provider (counselor, therapist, psychologist, etc.) According to NAMI, typical treatments include the use of an antidepressant medication, talk therapy, and light therapy (sitting under artificial light for a set amount of time). You and your practitioner can determine which treatments will be beneficial. The length of treatment will differ for each person, based on personal history, physical location, and available resources. Whether it is holiday stress or depression causing the winter blues, remember that reaching out for help is okay. Take a little hint from Scrooge: remember that change comes from within with a little help from others. 


landscapes Winter 2018



of Indoor Plants

Is having indoor plants good for mental and physical health? Numerous studies dating back more than 20 years suggest that there is a positive impact to having plants in indoor spaces. A few of these studies include:

Like everything, having house plants includes some risks and rewards. With a little planning and research, it is easy to safely add color and freshness to your home, office and other interior living spaces.

§§ A 2009 study by Park and Madsen found that patients in hospital rooms with plants required less pain medication, had lower heart rates and blood pressure and experienced less fatigue and anxiety than patients without plants (DOI:10.1089/acm.2009.0075). §§ Lohr, Pearson-Mims and Goodwin of Washington State University (1996) found that participants were more productive (12% quicker reaction on a computer task) and less stressed (lower systolic blood pressure) when indoor plants were visible. §§ In 2011, a literature review in a study called, “People-plant Relationships in an Office Workplace: Perceived Benefits for the Workplace and Employees,” cited dozens of additional studies that demonstrate benefits of having indoor plants. Overall the benefits of having indoor plants may include reducing stress, purifying air, raising humidity, improving sleep, fighting colds and generally improving well-being. Increasingly, people grow produce and herbs inside, as well, allowing for increased nutritional opportunities year-round.


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While there is a question as to how many and which kinds of plants are needed to realize some of these benefits, there is little doubt that adding plants to an interior space often provides more than just good aesthetics. But are there dangers? One consideration for adding plants to the home is toxicity to children and pets. Any plant can cause stomach upset to a human or animal if consumed regularly or in large quantities; however, some plants are poisonous. The National Capital Poison Center has a database of poisonous plants online at articles/plant#poisonousplants. If it is suspected that someone has consumed a poisonous plant, contact Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222, or visit for guidance. Text POISON/797979 to add this contact information to your cell phone. If the person has trouble breathing, has a seizure, collapses, can’t be awakened or is in other distress, contact 911 immediately. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has an extensive directory of plants that have been reported as being toxic for dogs and cats, meaning they can be dangerous, even deadly. A searchable database is found at: pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-and-nontoxic-plants. For pet emergencies, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

By Jodie DeLay MSU Extension External Relations Coordinator


If you have pets or young children in your home, care should be taken to keep toxic plants out of reach. Some common plants that are toxic for humans, dogs and/or cats include:

philodendron (Monstera deliciosa), and shamrocks (Oxalis species). If in question, seek advice before adding a house plant in an area where kids and pets have access.

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum species), anthurium (Anthurium species), calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica), Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema species), croton (Codiaeum variegatum), florist cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum), dumbcane (Diffenbachia maculata), peace lily (Spathiphyllum species), schefflera (Scheffleraactino phylla), split-leaf

Fortunately, there are many popular house plants that are non-toxic and make a good choice for homes with kids, cats and dogs. Following are five options, along with growing tips from the Clemson Cooperative Extension Home and Garden Information Center ( indoor-plants/). 


Areca Palm (Chrysalidocarpus lutescens) This palm grows to six or seven feet and has long, feather-shaped fronds. Areca Palms do best in bright indirect sunlight and when temperatures are from 65-70°F at night and 75-85°F in the daytime. The soil should be kept moist. Areca palms are very susceptible to spider mites.

Spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) This plant is excellent in hanging baskets. The long, grass-like leaves may be green or striped yellow or white. Spider plants grow best with bright, indirect sunlight and temperatures between 50-55°F at night and 6575°F in the day. It’s best to move them a few feet from windows to protect them from drafts in the winter.

Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata) The Boston has arching fronds that can be up to three feet long. It prefers bright indirect or filtered sunlight with night temperatures between 50-55°F and day temperatures between 68-73°F. The soil should be kept barely moist and high humidity is preferred. Spider mites, mealybugs and scale insects can be a problem.

American Baby Rubber Plant (Peperomia obtusifolia) These are great plants for beginners. They can grow to 6-10 feet tall, though they can be pruned as necessary for space. They have large, glossy, leathery leaves. They will do well near an east facing window where they can get morning light. They prefer night temperatures from 60-75°F, and daytime temperatures from 75-80°F. Soil should dry slightly between watering. Keep away from drafts.


Moth/Moon Orchids (Phalaenopsis sp.) Moth orchids have long arching sprays of flowers that remain fresh for months. Flowering occurs in winter or early spring. As they are adaptable to most indoor light conditions and thrive in low light,these orchids grow best with little to no direct sun and prefer night temperatures around 65°F and 75-80°F during the day. Do not let these get completely dry or sit in a waterlogged pot.

landscapes Winter 2018



For thousands of years, shepherds in Spain, Italy, the Middle East and Eurasia have used large, speciallybred dogs to help guard their sheep flocks against predators. The use of livestock guardian dogs (LGDs) has been increasing in the United States since the 1970s. As wolf and grizzly bear ranges have expanded, guard dog use among Montana ranchers has become commonplace. In the past, where a single dog could defend a flock from coyotes, many producers are now running up to three LGDs per flock, in addition to having herding dogs, such as Border Collies, to cope with the larger predators. The most common LGD breeds found in Montana are Anatolian Shepherd, Kangal, Komondor, Maremma, Spanish Mastiff, Turkish Boz, Akbash, and Great Pyrenees. Each breed has unique


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characteristics, though all are large and imposing with excellent hearing and surprising speed and agility. If you are thinking of purchasing a LGD, use a reputable breeder who understands your specific situation and needs. Some breeds are more aggressive, others are higher maintenance, and there are different personalities between dogs within a breed. There are several reputable breeders in Montana and surrounding states who are committed to creating a successful experience. These breeders: §§ maintain strong blood lines, §§ vaccinate, §§ spay and neuter pups, §§ place dogs at the right age, §§ raise their dogs with sheep or goats to start the bonding process at an early age, §§ monitor progress, §§ answer questions. In his publication Livestock Guardian Dogs, Reid Redden, Texas A&M Extension Sheep and Goat specialist, identified three major ways that LGDs reduce predation: territorial exclusion, disruption, and confrontation. First, the guard dogs mark their territory as a warning to other canines. Often canids including wolves, coyotes and domestic dogs will seek different territory rather than invade the LGDs space. Next, the LGD uses disruption. In the opening scenario, the dogs employed this technique perfectly. Seeing a 120-pound mass of barking fury barreling forward, followed by a second and third, usually detours even the staunchest predator. The final tactic is confrontation. This is where painful lessons may occur. As with airplane pilots,


As wolf and grizzly bear ranges have expanded, guard dog use among Montana ranchers has become more commonplace.

If you’ve been around a sheep operation in Montana lately, it’s likely you’ve seen plenty of dogs. Imagine this scenario. Walking down a country road, you encounter a flock of sheep. Your eye is drawn first to the black and white Border Collies zipping from one side to the other with bright eyes and an eager ear, listening for commands. Then, as you get closer, the flock parts like a fast-moving creek around a rock to reveal a large white animal. You exclaim to yourself, “wow, that’s a big dog!” Now sniffing the air in your direction, this dog lets out a tremendous bellow and starts loping your way, causing you to recall books you read as a kid where you had to make decisions with life and death consequences. Can I make it to a fence in time? Should I throw something at him? Can I outrun the friend who is with me? As the dog barrels forward, one or two more similar dogs join. How should you react?

by Brent Roeder MSU Extension Associate Sheep Specialist


there are no old and bold or careless guard dogs. A single guard dog is no match for a wolf or a grizzly bear. Over the years, LGDs have learned to stay close to the sheep and other dogs for back-up. If the situation heats up, predators should expect the fast, fearless herders to join the fray, and at some point the shepherd will add his presence to the situation. This layered combination of LGD, agile Border Collies or other herder breeds, and human presence is almost always enough to send a large predator down the road. Unfortunately, not all human and guard dog confrontations end well. Joggers, mountain bikers, hunters and recreationists with dogs have all had unpleasant experiences with LGDs. Few people in Montana will ever chance upon a guard dog while recreating on public lands. But if you do, stop running or biking and confront the dog. Usually, they are surprised by a fast-moving jogger or bicyclist and once they determine you are human, they’ll settle down and go back to the sheep. Recreating or hunting with dogs and encountering a LGD can lead to uncertain situations depending on the two dog’s temperaments. Typically, a companion or hunting dog will immediately return to you once confronted by an LGD. Keeping the dog close to you or loading them in or on a vehicle usually settles the situation down. If your dog won’t return to you, acts aggressively to the guard dog, or takes a run for the sheep, the LGD will use whatever tactics it feels necessary to protect its territory and the sheep. For your safety and out of courtesy, if you’re visiting a sheep operation at

lambing, shearing, or during weaning in the fall, leave your dog at home or in the vehicle. Some LGDs will wander from their flock while running off predators, trying to guard the neighbors flock or looking for food or a mate. This can lead to loss including from death in traffic, being picked up by a stranger who assumes the pet is lost, or by upsetting neighbors. To prevent wandering, the LGD should be bonded with the flock or herd they are supposed to protect, have ample and quality food and be spayed or neutered. It is good practice to notify neighbors before using LGDs. If your LGD leaves the ranch, do not award with affection or food. Kenneling for a short period can be effective punishment. While LGDs are working dogs, Redden advises that they should be socialized with people. This helps them to receive proper veterinarian care including vaccinations, deworming and for some breeds, grooming; reduces conflict with neighbors and increases the ability for them to be moved to different operations. LGDs have become important to sheep operations across Montana. The following publications can provide more information: - Livestock Guardian Dogs by Reid Redden from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, 2015 - Factsheet on Livestock Protection Dogs from Wildlife Services, 2010 - Recommended Best Management Practices for Livestock Protection Dogs from the American Sheep Industry Association 


landscapes Winter 2018


Winter Home Health

Why Indoor Air Quality is Important in the Winter Months

Another important factor to consider when maintaining indoor air quality is the “stack effect.” This phenomenon is the same mechanism, or force, that causes hot air balloons to rise. As warm air rises, air from the lowest levels are drawn up into the living spaces of the home, introducing basement/ crawlspace air into the living environment and eventually out of the roof or attic. It is estimated that 40% of the air we breathe in the living areas was once basement/crawlspace air. As the cold season draws near, there are a few indoor air contaminants/pollutants that should be given special consideration: Combustion Pollutants

Combustion sources include propane, oil, gas, kerosene, coal and wood. Any combustion appliance that uses these fuels can lead to indoor air pollution.


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Such appliances include natural gas and propane heaters, wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, water heaters, dryers (if gas-powered), and stoves, and they all should be vented. It is critical that these appliances are well-maintained and checked by a professional during a tune-up every heating season. Carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide are the most dangerous emissions from the combustion sources mentioned above. Carbon monoxide is odorless, tasteless, and colorless. It interferes with oxygen distribution in the body. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include poor coordination, headache, nausea, confusion, dizziness and fatigue. High levels can cause death. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that during 1999-2010, a total of 5,149 deaths from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning occurred in the U.S., an average of 430 deaths per year (CDC, 2010). It is extremely important to install a carbon monoxide alarm that will alert occupants to the presence of this deadly gas. Often these alarms are combined with smoke detector capabilities as well. Nitrogen dioxide is also colorless and odorless, and it can irritate the mucous membranes, including those in the eyes, nose and throat. Additional effects include shortness of breath, damaged respiratory tissue and chronic bronchitis. Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that occurs naturally in many soils. It enters homes and other buildings through small cracks and holes in the foundation, where it becomes trapped and accumulates in the air. In the winter months, levels of radon can be elevated due to the “stack effect” discussed previously. When people breathe in radon, it damages the inner supple tissues of lungs, which can cause lung cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer (behind tobacco smoke) in the United States. Most radon exposure occurs


As temperatures drop in winter months, inhabitants inevitably want to tightly seal their homes to keep out the cold. This can involve increasing insulation in walls and other cavities in the home, weatherstripping and using caulk to seal cracks and crevices. As homes are more tightly sealed, ventilation decreases. This can raise the concentrations of allergens, pollutants, and possibly even radioactive radon gas in the home.

by Barbara Allen MSU Extension Environmental Health Program Manager

in the home where people spend the most time. Because radon has no taste, smell, or color, a home must be tested to find out if there is a presence, and if so, how much radon is in the air. There is no safe level for radon, but the EPA and the Surgeon General recommend fixing homes that have levels at or above 4pCi/L (picocurie per liter). Radon is found throughout the U.S. and can vary widely from one home to another. Homes with high levels have been found in all states. Home radon testing is simple and inexpensive. Many state radon programs, as well as Montana State University Extension's Housing & Environmental Health Program, offer radon test kits, and there are inexpensive ways to fix and prevent high radon levels in homes. Effective mitigation can be done by the homeowner or professionals. Mold and moisture issues


Mold requires moisture to grow and proliferate. When areas in a home, such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms are humid or experience water damage, mold can develop in a relatively short period of time. Mold problems in winter can quickly develop in walls and on exterior windows that aren’t insulated. Although the accumulation of mold is prevalent all year round when left unchecked, it can be especially bad in winter or early spring. This is because many homes are tightly sealed against the cold outside, so any moisture that does develop or find its way inside, can remain inside for a long time. Also, with the difference in temperatures between inside and outside, condensation on windows and walls is more likely to occur during this time period. When occupants are exposed to mold, it can irritate the lungs, and trigger or exacerbate allergies and respiratory issues. However, homeowners can combat mold with a bit of effort. The easiest way to begin addressing mold growth is to reduce the moisture that mold needs to grow. Focus on common moisture-prone areas inside a home such as bathrooms and the kitchen. Bathrooms and kitchens should have operable exhaust fans that draw moist air out of the room. Heated Recovery Ventilation units (HRVs) can also assist in regulating

moisture while optimizing the conservation of heat from exiting air. Also check the area outside of a home for leaks and rain gutters that may not be operating properly. Both inside and outside the home, it is important to address water and moisture problems as soon as they are found. Allergens

People who suffer from indoor allergies such as mold and dust mites may notice their allergy symptoms more during winter, when people spend more time inside. People who suffer from pollen allergies tend to get a break when the weather gets cold. There are a few reasons for this. First, when it gets cold and the furnace kicks on, it sends dust, mold spores, and insect parts into the air. These can get into your nose and launch a reaction. Some common indoor allergy triggers include: §§ Dust mites These microscopic bugs flourish in mattresses and bedding. When their droppings and remains become airborne, they can cause allergy symptoms. §§ Mold This fungus thrives in damp, humid areas such as basements and bathrooms. When mold spores get into the air, they can trigger allergy symptoms. §§ Animals Most people are not allergic to animal fur, but rather to a protein found in the pet dander, saliva, and urine. Lastly, it is important to keep in mind that it’s in the winter months that many people choose to work on hobby and home improvement activities. With the decrease in ventilation during the cold periods, fumes and other volatile organic compounds commonly found in hobby, home improvement paint/ glue products, household cleaning and even beauty products, can build up to dangerous levels. To keep air safe while using these products, always work in a well-ventilated area. 


landscapes Winter 2018


Teaching Kids to be Wise Spenders Have you ever tried to get a young person to do something in mind that a young person will value things they aren’t interested in? It can be a frustrating experience for everyone. differently than an adult. If it’s hard to remember Young people are often told (typically by their parents) they need to be smart with their money and save for some big event in the future, maybe college, a car or just a future purchase. Basically, parents saying “no you can’t spend it all” or “no you can’t buy that” isn’t always very effective. Many of us don’t like to be told we can’t do something. A better approach is to shift the focus away from “no” and toward an alternative. This should help get more buy-in from a young person. First, keep the focus on money that will be spent now or in the near future. If 10% of money is saved, then 90% can be spent. Teaching how to get the most out of the 90% is much more fun and engaging than focusing on the 10% being set aside. Second, have a discussion about priorities. What things are really important? Many young people will prioritize friends and things that make them fit in with friends (clothes, phones, music, cars, etc.). Entertainment is also likely to rank high on the priority list. Probing a bit about why they value particular things can help them, and you, understand their values and priorities. Keep


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this, think back to where your money went when you were in high school. Considering priorities is a great starting point for a spending plan. The goal isn’t to convince the world that only one person’s priorities are correct. Third, a discussion about needs versus wants is important. In the adult world, we might want a vacation but we need to pay the utility bill. In the non-adult world, needs may be more limited, but there may still be some items that are closer to needs than others. Getting a burger at a fast food restaurant might be a clear want, while paying for gas to get to work or school is a lot closer to a need. Grouping some of these expenses or potential expenses can be helpful when prioritizing spending. Finally, discuss the pros and cons of choices being made. Some choices are clearly a pro or con, while others have room for debate. The important thing is the process of making a choice (or proposing to do something) and evaluating the potential outcomes. Teaching money decision-making skills can lead to good choices.

Joel Schumacher MSU Extension Economics Associate Specialist


A tip to keep kids motivated to regularly dedicate some money toward a big purchase, such as college, is to have some shorter-term goals as part of the ultimate goal. For example, if the ultimate goal is to save $10,000 to buy a car in three years, don’t set that singular goal. Break the goal into several parts (such as save $2,500 by the end of year one, $6,000 by the end of year two, and then the full $10,000 by the end of the third year). Structuring a goal in this way will let the saver celebrate their success of meeting the first year goal and hopefully stay motivated to stay on track for the year two goal. This same process could be used with monthly savings goals building up to an end-of-summer overall goal. The gratification of meeting a mini-goal will increase the chances of meeting the overall goal. Teaching young people to be good money managers can be accomplished, but if we simply tell them “no spending” then it doesn’t allow the young person a chance to learn the process. Even if they have failures in spending wisely as a young person, they are probably less costly than if they make that same mistake 5 or 10 years down the road. Learning from small mistakes as a young person and having some discussions about money are great ways to develop better financial habits as an adult. 

Want to encourage your teen to learn about money and saving? by Marsha Goetting, Ph.D., CFP®, CFCS MSU Extension Family Economics Specialist Encourage him/her to Get Smart About Money. The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) has several courses. You can start with Money Basics or choose My Earning Plan, My Emergency Fund Plan or My Financial Well-Being Plan, among others. The United States Mint has fun for kids and tips for teens with fact sheets on savings, a savings calculator, the 5 Step Save/ Spend Plan, When Will You be a Millionaire, and more. http:// Research shows that those with a savings plan are more likely to spend less than they earn and save the difference than those without a plan. The American Saves for Youth savings initiative provides an opportunity for parents to motivate, communicate and encourage youth to take action. learn-more-about-us/2-uncategorised/1129-america-saves-foryouth-savings-2 The MSU Extension Track’n Your Savings Goals register shows youth how to track progress towards achieving specific savings goals – all in one place. At any point in time they can see the amount they have accumulated towards each goal. It’s designed for those who want a simple way to track their savings without having to spend a lot of time and hassle doing it. Special savings registers and a MontGuide are made available at no charge for Montana residents through gifts from the First Interstate BancSystem Foundation and the Montana Credit Unions for Community Development, now known as Montana’s Credit Unions. MontGuide FamilyFinancialManagement/MT200303HR.pdf Register


landscapes Winter 2018


Featured Montanan

WHITNEY KLASNA If you’re looking for an example of how to build a network, look to the agriculture industry and Whitney Klasna. She has defined a role for herself as a spokesperson for Montana agriculture. If you haven’t yet heard of her, chances are that you will. She was a 10-year member of the Montana Livestock Loss Board, appointed to the board by Governor Schweitzer in 2007 at age 19. Now, as the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association national secretary for three years, the president of Montana Women Involved in Farm Economics (WIFE), a co-chair of the ‘Women Stepping Forward for Agriculture’ conference, and a Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership (REAL) Montana board member, her network and efforts in ag organizations reach to and beyond the borders of Montana. Klasna said “The internet has opened the doors to influence and be influenced by others around the world without having to leave the middle-of-nowhere, Montana. My involvement in ag organizations has introduced me to so many wonderful people. My love for Montana, agriculture, rural life, and passion for leaving this land better for the next generation naturally has me seeking out ways to improve.” Many organizations exist to help farmers and ranchers access the latest scientific information, as well as to stay current on laws and regulations. Building a personal network within these organizations can lead


a publication of Montana State University Extension

to enhanced profitability and sustainability, as well as greater contentment. In Klasna’s social media, you’ll find vivid photography and also learn something from her dialogue about farm and ranch life, from processing hay to easing the weaning process by having calves wear nose flaps. As a fourth generation Montana farmer and rancher, following a path in agriculture wasn’t a stretch for her. “I have been involved in production agriculture my whole life, I was raised on a farm and ranch in the sagebrush of southeast Garfield County. Our family also had a house in Miles City for school because our ranch was about 60 miles from any town. My ancestors homesteaded in the far northeastern corner of Montana near Westby and Raymond,” said Klasna. She grew up with her mother and father’s (Kathy and Tom Wankel) influential love of land and animals, and she trained for ranch life at a young age. “My dad tells the story of when I was about 2 or 3,” said Klasna, “and he would put the old feed pickup in compound and have me steer around the feed grounds in winter while he crawled in the back to shovel cake pellets out to the cows. He says I never dumped him out of the back of the pickup, so I call that a win!” Agriculture instruction and FFA in high school led to college at Montana State University in Bozeman, where she majored in Ag Education and Extension relations.

by Sara Adlington MSU Extension Editor


She met her husband, Dylan Klasna, in college at MSU. After graduating and a brief stint as a radio farm broadcaster at KMON in Great Falls, she and Dylan moved back to his family’s farm and ranch in western Richland county, north of Lambert. They married in the summer of 2011. They live on the ranch with his parents, Kim and Tim Klasna (both MSU graduates), and three very photogenic corgis and assorted ranch cats. “We have a commercial Hereford and Black Baldy cow-calf herd. We farm winter wheat, spring wheat, canola, feed barley, feed oats, triticale, and cover crops,” said Klasna. While Klasna’s network includes a theme of ‘Women in Ag,’ she doesn’t adhere to a strictly-defined role for women in agriculture. “I don’t know if it’s changed much from my great-grandmother’s or grandmother’s generations. Just as I do now, they worked in the fields and in the corrals alongside their husbands. Seasons of life and other circumstances can change the roles and that’s totally okay. My parents both had to seek jobs in town because of changing seasons and circumstances. It is my hope that no woman should ever feel that they are not a part of “ag” because they aren’t in the fields. We all have our roles in making agriculture successful.” Klasna’s upbringing seems to have prepared her well for the challenges of farm and ranch life. While every career can have ups and downs, growing living things and being nimble during mother nature’s challenges create some extremes in ranching. Her least favorite part of the job is selling cows that are out of production. “I cry every year. In a perfect world, the cows would live out their life in knee-deep

grass here on the ranch until their last breath. But we can’t do that and be good stewards,” said Klasna. She has learned resilience. “As a child of the 80s drought, I guess I was born resilient. Living in Eastern Montana where the weather goes from -50 windchills and blizzards, to 110 degree heat and droughts, you toughen up pretty quick. The “good years” are our reward for making it through those challenging times. The 2017 drought was one of the worst on record, but because we had implemented improved farming practices like no-till and cover crops on our farm and ranch, we were able to make it through without too much worry.” For Klasna, a positive outlook helps her favor all parts of the work. “I know this is cheesy, but my favorite part is everything! Even during the bad times, there’s still no place I would rather be. Sure, when the windchill is -40 and we are trying to thaw a frozen water hydrant so the cows have water, I have moments of doubt and thoughts of tropical vacations. But when the water finally starts flowing and my body thaws out, all is forgotten. I will say that I love hand feeding my cows cake pellets. I have a special old cow I call Fluffy that even lets me brush her.” Klasna’s deep love for what she does propels her can-do advice for those interested in or new to ranching, and her desire to help others be successful in Montana agriculture. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but be realistic about those changes you are implementing. Have a contingency plan. If you’re wanting to enter into production agriculture, hire on with a farm and ranch or find a mentor in your area that you can learn from.” 

An interesting sidenote about Whitney (Wankel) Klasna: “My family has had some unique opportunities because of the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton my mom and dad, Kathy and Tom Wankel, discovered in 1988 at Fort Peck. My mom discovered the first ever complete arm of T. rex in the world. The Wankel T. rex had been on display at the Museum of the Rockies until 2014, when it was loaned to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. In June 2019, it will be unveiled as the Nation’s T. rex and will be on display for millions of visitors from around the world.”


landscapes Winter 2018


Featured Pest


umigants are pesticides that use gas to kill pests. Pests inhale the pesticide and receive the pesticide through their lungs rather than by eating pesticidal bait. While highly effective, fumigants pose some unique safety challenges for applicators. This article will review tips to help applicators use fumigants more safely. This article will only discuss use of fumigants for the control of vertebrate pests in non-structural sites, such as pastures and rangeland. Fumigation of buildings or grain is beyond the scope of this article. Finally, readers should note that the advice presented here does not replace the information provided by the label. The label is the law.

Safer Use of Fumigants when Controlling Vertebrate Pests The full-faced gas mask above, with phosphine gas canister, is commonly used in aluminum and magnesium phosphide gas fumigations. Fumigant respirator requirements depend on the product you are using and the gas concentrations encountered during the fumigation. Always read the pesticide product label prior to application to determine the proper respirator needed.


a publication of Montana State University Extension

Fumigants fall into three legal classifications, General Use, Restricted Use and Non-regulated. General Use fumigants are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but users do not have to have a pesticide license to use them on property they own or lease. Ignitable gas cartridges, commonly called “gas bombs,” are an example of a General Use fumigant. Restricted Use fumigants also have a registration number from the EPA but may only be applied by licensed individuals. Aluminum phosphide-based products, such as Fumatoxin®, are an example of a Restricted Use fumigant. Non-regulated fumigants do not have an EPA registration number because they are classified as devices rather than as pesticides. Pressured Exhaust Rodent Control (P.E.R.C.) is an example of a non-regulated fumigant. It works by capturing and compressing the fumes from a gasoline-powered engine, thereby allowing the applicator to inject it into a burrow. Understand that all fumigants are potentially dangerous whether they are regulated or not. Do not fall into the mistaken belief that General Use or nonregulated products are “safe.” They are not. The greatest challenge facing applicators using fumigants is controlling the dispersal of the toxic gas. Gas from fumigants moves from areas of higher concentration to lower concentration to the extent the space allows. Baits, in contrast, are self-contained in pellets, grains, or blocks. They remain where they are placed until moved. Due to the mobility of gas, applicators must take precautions to protect themselves and non-targets from exposure to toxic fumes. The first and most

by Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP Vertebrate Pest Specialist, Montana Department of Agriculture

essential step in being safe with fumigants is to read and follow label use instructions. The vast majority of injuries with fumigants are caused by individuals failing to abide by label instructions. The most egregious errors involve application of fumigants near structures. Labels and instructions often require applicators to maintain minimum distances from structures to prevent the likelihood of gas penetrating gaps in the foundation and risking the health/life of the structure’s occupants. In those limited cases where the label or product instructions do not provide guidance on application distances from structures, use the recommended guidelines below. Note these distances are the closest one should get to a structure when treating rodent burrows.


§§ Pocket gopher: 150 feet, §§ Prairie dog: 100 feet, §§ Ground squirrel: 20 feet, and §§ Rat: 20 feet. §§ All other rodent species not listed avoid, treating burrows closer than 150 feet from structures. The period of time during the application process presents the greatest risk of exposure and potential injury to the applicator. Fortunately, following the label or product instructions significantly reduces pesticide exposure risk to the applicator. While that prior comment is certainly true, applicators can take additional steps to reduce their exposure risk even more. What follows are several additional ways fumigant applicators can reduce their risk of pesticide exposure. The first recommendation is to work in twoperson teams. Use one person to apply the product to the burrow, while the other prepares to backfill the burrow. By having the second person ready to close the burrow, the amount of toxic gas that will escape the burrow, and expose applicators is dramatically reduced. Control is improved because the toxic gas remains in the burrow and is not lost to the outside air.

Second, plan the application to start treating the field from the downwind side and work into the wind. Even though fumigated burrows are backfilled, some gas may still escape. Working into the wind ensures that any gas that happens to escape from treated burrows will be blown away from the location. Third, fumigate under ideal conditions. Fumigation is best done when the ground is moist. The reason is that moist soil has fewer air pockets for gas to escape when compared to dry soil. It seems strange to speak of gaps in the soil, but there are. Water fills gaps between the soil particles, thereby preventing gas from escaping the burrow, as gas escaping the burrow means lower efficacy. When using ignitable gas cartridges, moisture also reduces the fire risk associated with that fumigant. Fourth, monitor your health, particularly your level of mental clarity. If at any point during application, you feel light-headed, dizzy, weak, tired, develop a headache or experience any change in sense of well-being, STOP. These symptoms are early indicators of possible exposure to the gas. Stop applying fumigants. Get to fresh air. Do not make excuses of being tired, thirsty, or simply having a bad day. Seek medical attention as appropriate. Be sure to evaluate application methods to see if you missed something before returning to the application site. Finally, keep non-essential people and animals out of the treatment area. Don’t have children or pets lingering around the treatment site. Fumigants are highly effective pesticidal products and play an important role in the management of rodent pests. But they need to be used properly, in accordance with the label, to be effective while avoiding injury to non-target animals and humans. Information on the use of fumigants for specific vertebrate pests is available in the Vertebrate Pest Bulletins published by the Montana Department of Agriculture. Bulletins may be downloaded from 


landscapes Winter 2018




by Josie Evenson MSU Extension 4H Agent in Richland County

byJodie DeLay MSU Extension External Relations Coordinator

Winter break can be both a magical and boring time for kids. Time off school to spend with family and friends and doing things they love can be very special, but it can also be a time where youth really check out from learning and educational schedules. When students disconnect from the routine it can make returning to the classroom or learning environment difficult. There are things that caretakers of youth can do during the winter school break to keep kids focused and exploring new things to learn. Dedicate some time to plan ahead for activities to keep kids engaged over break using some of the ideas below.

Keeping a vehicle running in Montana during the winter months may require extra preparation, especially if a garage is not available. When temperatures drop, the oil in your car thickens and may cause added friction in the engine. Keeping the engine warm can improve fuel efficiency, keep emissions lower and reduce wear and tear on the engine. When temperatures drop below zero degrees F sources including the Canadian Automobile Association recommend “plugging in your car.” While newer vehicles may start, wear on the engine can still occur and fuel efficiency may decline when started cold. Many vehicles purchased in Montana will come fitted with a block heater. These have a cord hanging out of the grill or tucked just inside the hood that should be plugged into a three-wire, three-pronged extension cord rated for outdoor winter use for 2-4 hours before driving. If your vehicle doesn’t have a block heater, having one installed by a local automotive technician or dealer may be recommended. External oil-pan heaters are also available; some are magnetic, (which will not stick to an aluminum or stainless-steel pan), some are attached to the oil pan using RTV silicone.

§§ Limit screen time §§ Schedule free time for reading and writing §§ Take field trips to local museums or historic sites or take virtual field trips to other museums or websites online §§ Utilize online models that provide educational material and learning exercises §§ Encourage kids to try a new winter sport such as crosscountry skiing or ice skating §§ Spend time in the kitchen teaching kids how to cook or bake §§ Challenge the youth to get creative and make a homemade movie or puppet show

Other tips for getting your auto ready for winter include: checking tire wear and air pressure, testing the battery and cleaning the terminals, and inspecting the wiper blades. For additional information on preparing your vehicle for the winter, visit: 

§§ Schedule a play date or a game night with other families §§ Camp indoors §§ Devote time with youth to volunteer at a local shelter or food bank §§ Make the most of travel time by having kids practice spelling, writing or other learning exercises


§§ Visit your local Extension office for ideas on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) or other educational activities §§ Plan in advance for kids to join local youth organizations


such as 4-H 


a publication of Montana State University Extension

by Sara Adlington MSU Extension Editor


can damage landscapes and hardscapes around the home. To avoid slipping on ice in winter, we apply de-icing salt to our sidewalks, walkways and driveways. That salt dissolves and spreads to adjacent soil and plants, and also impacts the surface it is applied to. There are a few alternatives to using salt, and ways to protect plants. The most commonly used de-icing salt is sodium chloride, and though it comes in different particle sizes, it has similar detriments to plants. Accumulation of salt in plants and soils affects nutrition and water absorption. When salt dissolves, the ions (sodium and chloride for example) separate, and the sodium ions can damage the soil and cause crusting that reduces the ability of water to enter the soil. Increased salt concentrations in soil can also make it harder for plants to absorb water, causing dehydration (similar to what would happen if a person tried to get hydrated drinking ocean water). Salt spray along roadsides can damage a plant’s leaves, buds and stems, making it more susceptible to frost damage. Salt spray injury along roadsides can be seen as one-sided damage to both needles/leaves and branches, and the degree of injury can vary from year to year. De-icers commonly used on concrete pavement include sodium chloride, calcium chloride, magnesium chloride and calcium magnesium acetate (CMA). These de-icers can affect concrete physically with cracking and salt scaling. Sodium-free de-icing agents like calcium chloride or CMA may be better for plants because they lack sodium, but they can potentially cause more damage on concrete surfaces. Sodium chloride may remain a preferred method for de-icing roadways because of its lower cost. Research from Brigham Young University for the Utah Department of Transportation (2013) found in 9 of 10 studies that concrete exposed to sodium chloride experienced only minor, if any, adverse effects, while concrete exposed to calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, or CMA experienced significant deterioration, including scaling, cracking, mass loss, and compressive strength loss. Preventing salt damage to plants can be accomplished by not using it or using less of it, especially near sensitive plants. Alternatives include using coarse sand instead of salt on sidewalks and driveways for traction. Plants can be protected near driveways and roadways with barriers made of burlap, or plastic fencing or mesh. Plants showing injury and dieback from salt exposure can be watered, pruned and fertilized in the spring. Weakened plants may be more susceptible to attack by insects or disease. Improving drainage with permeable pavers can also reduce water ponding and ice formation. If salt runoff is a certainty, extra irrigation in landscape plantings can aid in leaching salt out of root zones (University of Tennessee Extension, Tree Susceptibility to Salt Damage, 2003). Alternatives to avoid salt damage on plants near driveways can include using raised planters or modifying runoff permanently (re-grading or adjusting landscaping) or with temporary barriers in winter to keep surface drainage away from plants. 


landscapes Winter 2018


Master Gardener Q&A


Deer and elk often rub on trees to remove the velvet from their antlers. The only way to prevent this is by installing fencing around trees. This will exclude deer and elk from rubbing on the trunks and from eating the tender new shoots and leaves in the spring. Woven wire fencing, 8 feet in height, is the easiest solution. Electric fencing can also be beneficial. These types of fences should be triplegalvanized, high-tensile, and carrying a current of 3,000 to 4,500 volts.



Can I put the fall leaves from my yard in the compost pile? - Yellowstone County


Leaves are great for composting as they are high in carbon and can contain many trace elements that are depleted in some garden soils. Nitrogen is needed to feed the bacteria that compost the organic matter in leaves. Grass cuttings are one source of nitrogen that can be added to the mixture to meet this requirement. Be careful not to include clippings that have been sprayed with certain herbicides because they will contaminate compost and cause problems later when the compost is applied. Another thing to be aware of is that leaves may take a long time to break down. For faster compost, leaves should be shredded before they are added to the compost pile. The only leaves that should never go into the compost pile are those of black walnut, which produce natural herbicides that will prevent seeds from germinating. For more information on home composting, find MSU Extension’s free MontGuide Home Composting (MT199203AG) at



How can I keep the deer and elk from rubbing on my trees? - Missoula County

What birds overwinter in Montana and what can I do to provide food and habitat for them? - Lewis & Clark County


Contrary to popular belief, not all birds fly south for the winter. You may see a variety of backyard birds such as Pine Siskin, House Finch, Evening Grosbeak, Nuthatches, Northern Flicker, American Tree Sparrow, Mountain Chickadees and Steller’s Jay, provided you supply four key criteria: food, water, habitat and a nesting place.

For more information on Montana birds visit: For information on Birds of North America, and to hear their song, visit:

Do you have Master Gardener questions? Send them to:


a publication of Montana State University Extension

American Tree Sparrow

Mountain Chickadee

Evening Grosbeak


Food can come in many forms, from perennial seed heads, trees and shrubs with persistent fruiting structures (like rose hips) and cone bearing trees, to supplemental seed mixes. Feeders should be placed high enough that cats and other animals can’t reach them, and close to shrubs and/or trees so birds can carry food and seek shelter easily. Avoid placing feeders near windows to prevent birds from striking the glass. Water can be challenging in Montana winters, but a heated bird bath would suffice unless you are fortunate enough to live near a water source such as a river, stream, pond or lake that doesn’t freeze solid. A yard landscaped with a variety of plant material (think about height variations and clustering plants en masse), offers adequate cover for most birds. Leaving some unkempt areas in the fall also helps provide cover and nesting sites as well as seed heads for food.

Ask Steward

Have a question for Ask Steward? Please send it to:

How do people take such impressive pictures with phone cameras?

Mat Walter, MSU Extension Agent in Musselshell/Golden Valley Counties

Today’s cameras capture images in megapixels (one million pixels). Each pixel is a tiny square portion of the image. Those squares combined determine the detail of the image, the more squares the sharper and better quality the image. A novice digital camera today will usually produce 24-30 megapixels (MP). In 2004, my flip phone camera had 0.3 megapixels, while my current phone camera has 12MP. It's easy to see how far technology has progressed for better imagery. All cell phones rely on an application or “app” to access and operate the camera. Whether an Apple, LG, Samsung or Motorola, the icon for the camera app is universal, it’s an image of a camera. Each manufacturer may offer app features like filters, lighting and live or motion photo controls, grids and even lens kits. BIGSTOCK.COM/MELISSA ASHLEY

Filters allow us to color the image in certain shades and tones, such as black

and white, sepia or vivid. Current phones offer filters in warm and cool tones, dense gray casts, or effects such as paint, chalk and sketch. There are also apps available to add animations to photos. The purpose of a filter is to create a more dynamic photo and give the image personality or depth that might not otherwise exist. Dynamic lighting gives an option to select a specific lighting scenario for taking pictures. Stage lighting is an option on some models which gives the impression the image is taken in a spotlight. Using the live photo option, available on iPhones, short video bursts are taken that allow better editing of images. Live photo is useful when taking freeze frame or action shots. Another useful tool that most phones incorporate are gridlines. The gridlines split the screen into thirds, creating nine squares and four intersections. This helps guide the use of photographers’ “rule of thirds.” This rule suggests that a photo should be framed so the focal point(s) align with the lines and corners of the grid, not in the center of the image.

Finally, lens kits are attachments which can augment a camera's features. A lens kit usually contains three kinds of lenses: a wide angle, a fish-eye, and a macro lens. A wide-angle lens widens the aperture to capture a more open image in the horizontal direction. A fish-eye lens gives an image from a fish’s perspective inside a fish bowl, which is a wider angle in all directions and a little distorted. The macro lens is my favorite of the clip-ons. It works as an ultra-close subject lens, allowing the capture of the tiniest details. Depending on the fit of the lens, you may end up with a “ghost ring” which is a gray fuzz or shaded ring surrounding the outside of the image; this happens when the lens doesn’t clip well to the phone. A cell phone camera gives us an opportunity to capture life as it happens. We’re always prepared to capture a moment while that phone is close in our pocket, and the technology to capture those memories is increasingly improved as time passes. 

TOP: wide-angle lens (MOLLY HAMMOND); LEFT: fisheye lens (CLIPART. COM); RIGHT: macro lens (NORI PEARCE)


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Lives & Landscapes Magazine - Winter 2018 Issue