Feature Story from 1997
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Not just a human affliction, arthritis often strikes the four-legged members of society as well.
Horses and dogs are the most common victims of arthritis in animals. Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease caused by injuries, growth or hereditary problems, and loose joints.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many animals have habits that neighbors, guests and owners don't appreciate, but a good, well-behaved pet usually can be traced to a good home.
A pet's personality and habits are shaped largely by what it is exposed to. Without the proper environment, an animal can become unhealthy and unhappy. Destructive behavior in pets can actually be avoided by placing pets in appropriate surroundings.
Pet owners should take precautions when preparing for a new pet.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Pets are an invaluable part of many American families, but the key to this happy relationship is a proper matching of pets and owners.
About 45 percent of Mississippians own pets, according to a recent survey conducted for the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Richard Hopper, extension leader of veterinary medicine at Mississippi State University, said many factors should be considered before commiting to care for an animal.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As cases of rabies in domestic animals are reported closer and closer each year to the Mississippi state line, officials are concerned the state might be running out of luck.
To address this potential problem for Mississippi's dog and cat populations, state Health Department officials and members of the Mississippi Veterinary Medical Association are joining forces to protect animals and people.
Vaccination clinics for cats and dogs will be held on four weekends at numerous sites around the state.
By Bonnie Coblentz
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- While eating apples each day is supposed to cut down on doctor visits, a more fun way to do the same thing is to own a pet.
Research has shown that people benefit in many ways from having a pet. Companion animals have more consistent behavior and give unconditional affection that humans rarely offer.
A survey conducted by the American Animal Hospital Association found that more than half the pet owners surveyed, if stranded on a deserted island, would choose the companionship of their pet over another human.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Learning how to treat animals is an important step in a child's educational process.
Tom Miller, owner of Sunshine Farms in Noxubee County, said allowing children the opportunity to interact with various animals is beneficial academically and socially.
"We want children to learn how to love and respect animals. If they learn that at an early age, they will have learned how to love and respect human beings," Miller said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Corn is growing this year on fewer Mississippi acres than last year, but the crop appears to be off to a good start despite being planted slightly behind schedule.
Dr. Tom Jones, Mississippi State University extension agricultural economist, said state farmers planted 630,000 acres of corn in 1996 and expect to plant about 550,000 acres this year. Most corn planting should be complete by April 20.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cotton, once king in Mississippi, is losing ground to other crops as production costs and market prices prompt some growers to venture away from their historical favorite.
Dr. Will McCarty, extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University, said switching from cotton can be a difficult move.
"If you already have the cotton equipment and farm labor costs, no other crop will pay the bills like cotton," McCarty said.
Growers typically plant cotton on the best land, which also rents for higher prices.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many people don't realize there is an art to mowing a yard, especially if the turf is to thrive and look good.
Dr. Mike Goatley, Mississippi State University associate professor/agronomist, said the type of grass determines its care. St. Augustine grasses need to be cut at 2 to 3 inches tall, centipede at 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches, and Bermuda and zoysia at 1 to 2 inches.
Although most lawns require mowing about once a week, Bermuda and St. Augustine varieties grow very fast and should be cut every three to four days, Goatley said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many times at graduation, parents' tears are not from happiness that the child finally made it, but sadness that a chapter of life has closed.
High school graduation marks the transition from a child to an independent adult. Many graduates move away to college the following fall, and those who don't choose college often get a job and move out of the house soon afterwards.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Homegrown tomatoes are the envy of most Mississippians, but fortunately, growing these summer delicacies is not as difficult as some may think.
Dr. Rick Snyder, extension vegetable specialist in Crystal Springs, said home gardeners can produce fine tomatoes in their own plots. It just requires a little know-how and attention to details.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi's fight against brucellosis has been a long, hard struggle, yet despite many setbacks, the state's cattle industry continues to strive for a brucellosis-free status.
A bacterial disease that causes cows to miscarry their calves or become infertile, brucellosis can be contracted by horses, dogs, sheep, goats and swine. Humans also are susceptible to a form of brucellosis, commonly referred to as undulant fever, which causes persistent flu-like symptoms.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spring has many beautiful signs to announce its arrival each year, but none are more fascinating than the sight of a hummingbird darting from flower to flower.
Many Southerners provide special feeders to get an occasional glimpse of the tiny birds before they migrate back to their winter homes in Mexico and Central America.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Soybean growers remain optimistic about the state's 1997 crop despite cool, rainy weather conditions that have been less than ideal for planting.
Dr. Alan Blaine, extension soybean specialist at Mississippi State University, said rain several weeks ago concerned growers, but after it stopped the ground dried so quickly that some farmers planted their first soybeans in dry soil.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi growers have most of their rice planted, but cold, wet conditions are hindering plants' development.
Dr. Joe Street, extension rice specialist in Stoneville, said farmers are beginning to get concerned.
Most Mississippi rice growers prefer to plant the Lemont variety, which needs to be planted by mid-May," Street said. "Later plantings could be adversely affected by cool fall weather and rains that could hamper harvest."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Last winter's mild temperatures not only were easy on Mississippi people, but the state's insects as well.
The lack of a sustained deep freeze, together with the warm, relatively dry spring has resulted in favorable breeding and growing conditions for many insect pests.
Dr. James Jarratt, Mississippi State University extension entomologist, said typical Mississippi winters don't do widespread harm to insect populations.
VERONA -- If Old MacDonald had a pizza farm, he'd grow more than pigs and cows. More than 800 third graders recently learned the many sources of pizza products -- from the box to the herbs.
Today's children have fewer opportunities to see animals and crops growing on farms and so are less aware of the sources of many products.
The Mississippi State University Extension Service organized the Pizza Farm Field Days at the Lee County Agri-Center in Verona to educate children on the importance of farmers and agriculture to produce kid's all-time favorite food -- pizza.
By Allison Powe
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Southerners are accustomed to warm weather, so when spring arrives, many people are eager to replace sweaters and coats with short sleeves and swimsuits.
Stephanie Wayne, extension apparel and textile clothing assistant at Mississippi State University, reminds Mississippians to store winter clothes properly to ensure that they maintain good quality and are ready to wear when the next fall arrives.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Keeping a good, productive pond is a constant battle against natural processes that keep habitats in an ever-changing state.
"All ponds and lakes are born to die," said Dr. Marty Brunson, Mississippi State University extension wildlife and fisheries specialist. "If given enough time without intervention, they fill up with silt, become shallow, then turn into a bog, marsh and finally dry land."
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A common sight around the state is a piece of farm equipment or an old out-building barely visible under a covering of kudzu.
Because it spreads rapidly, people fight an uphill battle to control the vine. But new studies have found that goats, with their tendency to eat anything green, may help destroy this weed.