Tuesday, September 28, 2021

COULD COUNTRY LIVING BE YOUR BEST PROBIOTIC

 





Do you spend a lot on probiotic supplements and fancy yogurts?

If so, you’re not alone. Probiotic food and supplement sales have surged over the last 10 years, thanks to exciting new research on “the human microbiome” showing how good bacteria benefits our health.

And this isn’t “fake” or “product-company-sponsored” research. This is the real stuff.

Just hop onto ScienceDaily, PubMed, or any scholarly database, and you will find thousands of peer-reviewed studies on how probiotics enhance gut bacteria diversity, which in turn can benefit everything from heart health and digestion to immunity and even your mood.

So how exactly does enhancing your gut bacteria diversity protect you from so many diseases?

You have probably heard that a huge portion of your immune system resides in your gut. Therefore, the more diversified your gut bacteria, the stronger and more resilient your immune system will be.

Probiotics play a role by infusing your gut with beneficial bacteria that allow for greater resiliency and strength against unfriendly bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

However, as many health experts will tell you, including those quoted in a 2016 New York Times article on autoimmunity entitled: "Educate Your Immune System", the body also needs the opportunity to fight off harmless bacteria and germs for optimal immune function…

…and that’s where farm life comes in.

As it turns out, farm and country living, with all its fresh air, animals, farm-fresh food, and regular contact with nature, provides a hefty dose of natural gut-diversifying, immune-boosting germs to protect your health.

It almost acts like an earth-based probiotic.

Read on to discover 5 ways farm and country life can provide you with the best (and cheapest) source of probiotics.



#1: Farm animals

Most farmers keep animals for production purposes such as providing milk, grazing pasture, or as a source of meat.

However, new research has revealed our furry friends have been providing us with some added health perks for millennia.

For example, a new study released last year in the New England Journal of Medicine showed Amish children who spent time around farm animals had a significantly lower risk of asthma than children who did not spend time with animals.

Researchers believe this is due to the microbe-rich barnyard dust the children inhale, which challenges and thereby strengthens their immunity over time.

Scientists are so convinced by their “barnyard dust hypothesis” that they propose a comparable spray be formulated for children who won’t have contact with farm animals in their early years.

Asthma rates among typical school-age children have risen dramatically to more than 10 percent in recent years, while the Amish maintain a low 2-4 percent asthma and allergy rate among childhood populations.

And there’s more good news for pet owners…

 Additionally, research has shown that living with dogs and cats can help enhance your gut bacteria, which is great news if you don’t live on a farm or keep livestock.



#2: Reduced levels of stress

Despite evidence about the role over-sanitizing, diet and antibiotics play in degrading gut bacteria balance, many experts believe stress may play the most significant role of all.

This has to do with that gut-brain connection we mentioned earlier. Here’s how that works:

Your gut and your brain are directly connected by what is now known as the vagus nerve.

This nerve acts like an information superhighway, shuttling information between your gut and your brain and vice versa. This explains the term “gut feelings” as your gut does experience whatever your brain tells it.

Based on this new finding, experts believe when we are under chronic mental and emotional stress, it eventually wears down our gut lining, resulting in compromised immunity.

One of the biggest benefits of country living is the natural escape it offers from common urban stressors like traffic, noise, crowds, and pollution.

In addition, spending more time outdoors in green space, escaping from noise pollution, connecting with animals, moving at a slower pace, and having regular contact with the earth have all been proven to significantly reduce stress and anxiety, which will benefit your gut health.

#3: Gardening, landscaping, and playing in the dirt

You have probably heard the expression: “a little dirt never hurt anyone.”

As it turns out, a little dirt could be just what the doctor ordered.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins have found infants exposed to dirt, dander, and other germs had a lower incidence of asthma and allergies.

This is believed to be due to specific microbes found in dirt strengthening babies’ developing immune systems.

For adults, children, and babies the simple act of gardening, landscaping, or playing in the dirt provides regular, safe exposure to a variety of immune-boosting bacteria and other microbes.

But the benefits of dirt don’t stop there.

According to researchers at the University of Bristol, soil microbes can help ease and prevent depression in adults.

The soil microbes work by boosting immunity by influencing the body’s production of cytokines which can enhance serotonin levels, thereby helping to alleviate depression.

Add to this what we learned in our previous point about gut-brain-connection, and one can see how a little time spent playing in the dirt could make a huge impact on your emotional well-being.

#4: Fresh, clean air

In our first point, we mentioned the beneficial effects of barnyard dust on asthma and allergy susceptibility in children.

This is a perfect example of how the air we breathe influences our gut health and immunity.

Though much of the science on fresh air and the microbiome focuses on indoor environments, the consensus is the more beneficial bacteria and germs found in the air, the better it is for your immunity.

This is great news for those living in rural areas, as they tend to have better air quality than big cities while maintaining a vast diversity of beneficial airborne microbes.

Add to that the proven benefits certain tree and plant essential oils have on our immunity, and you have a powerful immune-boosting ally in the fresh country air.




#5: Farm-Fresh-Foods

You have probably always suspected homegrown food is more nutritious than store-bought. What you may not have known is that homegrown foods are typically richer in gut-diversifying bacteria as well.

For example, fruits and vegetables picked fresh from the garden and washed simply with water will still retain some of those beneficial soil microbes we discussed earlier.

We hope that you enjoyed this blog post and gained some knowledge about probiotics and living in the country.  If you are in the market to buy or sell rural property, please feel free to contact the Rural KC Team, it's all we do.  913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411.  www.RuralKC.com.  Have a great day!


Kristen Boye is the editor of Rethink:Rural and the owner of Holistic Writing Concepts---a copy and content writing company specializing in the natural health and green living markets. Kristen lives with her husband and two children on their medicinal herb farm in beautiful rural Western North Carolina. Visit her online at: www.holisticwritingconcepts.com




Tuesday, September 21, 2021

GETTING YOUR HORSE BARN READY FOR FALL


Cold weather is quickly approaching, so follow these tips to ensure you're ready for the change of season.

1. Organize your blankets

Cold nights will start creeping in before you know it, so make sure each horse’s lightweight sheet is identified and cleaned, especially those who may be clipped. Keep tabs on the temperature lows each night as summer begins to turn into fall so you don’t lose sight of the nights when your horses may need light blanketing. Also, have the heavier blankets ready to go so winter doesn’t sneak up on you and leave you unprepared.

2. Make a plan with all the students (and parents) at your barn

It’s back-to-school time, which means busier schedules for most families that may board or train at your farm. Make sure you keep in touch with those who may be heading back to school so you can help manage their horses and their riding goals despite their busier schedules. This communication will lead to more successful outcomes for everyone as many commitments are being juggled by all parties.

3. Inspect your farm for damage or deterioration

Winter is prime time for problems such as leaky roofing, broken fences, loose hinges, insulation problems, footing issues, and more. You don’t want to save these fixes for the middle of winter when they’re hardest to repair. Survey your property for signs that things may need attention. Be sure your windows and doors are functioning properly to seal in the heat during the cold nights to come. Check on your water tanks and insulated pipes to be sure you won’t face any issues when freezing temperatures hit. If anything needs adjusting, the fall is the perfect time to make those repairs.

4. Have a severe weather plan in place

The fall can also bring with it the chance of severe weather in many parts of the country. Research how to prepare a farm structure for high winds and heavy rain ahead of time. As fall turns into winter, heavy snowstorms can put your horses at risk, limiting access to necessities for the horses. It helps in this scenario to have 10% more supplies on hand than you normally need to keep your stable full of horses safe and healthy in case of a weather shutdown. Above all else, stay tuned in to the news this fall so you won’t be caught off-guard if the weather starts to get dangerous in your area.

5. Decorate!

There’s nothing more fun than breaking out the fall d├ęcor as the leaves begin to change and the air gets a little cooler. The best part of decorating for fall is that decorations can stay up from September through November, so you can enjoy your efforts for a long time. Use horse-safe decorations to add some fall vibes to your barn, including pumpkins, string lights (out of reach of horses), scarecrows, and more. If you have jumps in your arena, add some hay bales, pumpkins, and colorful gourds to make them festive. You can even plan a socially distant Halloween party with a costume contest to get the whole barn involved in a fun activity.


As always, please feel free to give the Rural KC Team-powered by Keller Williams Partners, Inc.-a call at 913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411 for any questions you might have, or if you are interested in buying or selling rural real estate.  Have a great day!

Monday, September 6, 2021

IMPROVING FISH HABITAT IN PONDS



Fishing on your own farm pond can provide hours of relaxation and entertainment for adults and children alike.  However, it is important to know how to create and maintain the diversity of fish species. 

Small ponds are a valuable part of rural property and are therefore common features of many land tracts. 

Most farm ponds are stocked with largemouth bass and bluegill, occasionally adding channel catfish. Some owners want to focus on trophy bass primarily with fewer catchable fish in total. 

Others may desire a pond with large numbers of smaller fish that are easier to catch. The discussion here is for those farm pond managers interested in a balanced farm pond population.

In “Farm Pond Management for Recreational Fishing”, a publication from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Program in cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, a balanced pond is defined as “one where both largemouth bass and bluegill populations have stable reproduction each year and there is a range of sizes from small to large in both species.”  

In general, the bluegill population should provide plenty of food for the bass and the bass population should keep the bluegill from overpopulating. 

Fish habitat is an important factor in farm pond management.

The cover allows juvenile fish to survive predation. Depending upon the type of cover, it may also contribute nutrients for insects that become food for fish.

Levi Kaczka, Coordinator for Region IV Fisheries in the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, shared some of his thoughts on improving fish habitat in farm ponds.

“Farm ponds generally lack quality fish habitat without additions from owners since most are excavated from an otherwise open plot of land. When an owner thinks about adding structure, they should think of needs from the standpoint of both large (catchable) and small (juvenile not sought by anglers) fish since both are needed for a quality fishery.” 

In general, structures that may be added to ponds will fall into two categories.

The first is aquatic vegetation.

“Submersed aquatic vegetation is an excellent source of structure since it provides nursery habitat for juvenile fish,” says Levi. “This nursery habitat is beneficial for young fish both in terms of avoiding predation, as well as increasing the habitat for aquatic invertebrates that will provide forage for juvenile bass and all life stages of bream.”

With aquatic vegetation, there are also some concerns as it requires active management.

“Many folks are hesitant to introduce vegetation due to the common occurrence of it overrunning a shallow-water pond and the subsequent issues with oxygen depletion and the inconveniences to fishing,” adds Levi.

Along these lines, the website for the Missouri Department of Conservation says, “Too much cover is as detrimental to good fish management as too little.”

This excess cover allows small fish to be so well protected from predation that they overpopulate, get too little food, and don’t grow.  

As a rule of thumb, the Missouri Department of Conservation site suggests that no more than 10-20 percent of the surface area of a pond should have plant growth. They also note that this may require active thinning.

Levi suggests the alternative is to add hardcovers such as fallen trees, limbs, and brush along the shoreline. 

“These make great additions since they are organic material that will slowly break down over time and don’t cost much to replace. Additionally, they often provide varying amounts of interstitial space (the space between branches and hardcover) which is desirable in a bass and bream pond. The finer the structure and interstices, the more beneficial it will be as cover for small fish. The larger those spaces, the more beneficial for a bigger predator hanging out looking for a meal. Ultimately, you’d like to have both present.”

If you are thinking about sinking brush in your farm pond, the type of brush, location, and arrangement are all factors to think about.

“Some of my favorite material we put into the lakes on fish attractors are large Wax Myrtle bushes,” says Levi. “They seem to last relatively long before breaking down and provide varying sizes of interstitial space all in one or two bushes. Some other materials to consider may be leftover Christmas trees or bamboo, both of which can be anchored with cinder blocks or fixed in a small bucket of concrete.”

“As far as location, from the shoreline out to 10-15 feet works great,” says Levi. “Since most people are going to be fishing these small farm ponds from the bank, no sense in adding structure to areas outside of casting distance.”

The Missouri Department of Conservation site also recommends the brush should be sunk in sections of the pond where the top of the brush remains within 4-6 feet of the surface. Often, water of this depth is in the vicinity of the dam. Care should be taken that brush doesn’t interfere with the spillway or exit of water from the pond.

Also, this website references research suggesting that the placement of brush can impact fish concentration. For example, they note that in the case of sinking Christmas trees, three placed close together in a triangle will attract more fish than the same three trees spread out.

The second is sinking hard covers such as clean cinder blocks or pipes

This is especially helpful when channel catfish are one of the desired fish. Channel cats gravitate toward cavities for cover.

In conclusion, management of farm pond habitat can help provide a balanced fish population.  Whether you add aquatic plants or hardcover such as submerged trees may depend on the amount of time and money you wish to invest. But parting words from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission may be worth considering.

“The management of the ponds should take into account important conservation principles to prevent doing more harm than good.”

  If you are interested in buying or selling rural property, give the Rural KC Team a call.  913-837-0760 or 913-837-0411.  Have a great day!


Many thanks to Jim Mize for all of the great information.