MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Battling nature and people, trees that endure are genetically strong and environmentally lucky.
"Fire, lightning, construction projects, disease and insects are some of the main obstacles a tree must overcome to achieve a long life," said Dr. Andy Ezell, extension forestry specialist at Mississippi State University.
Recent storms packing high wind gusts have taken their toll on long-standing trees across the state.
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."
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.
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 -- 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 -- 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'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.
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 -- 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 -- Ownership has its benefits, especially for pets.
Unwanted pets and stray animals often end up dead beside the road, or suffer from sickness and disease, said Dr. Roger Wilbur, a veterinarian at Mississippi State University's College of Veterinary Medicine. Some of these had owners who no longer want them, while others are descendants of strays.
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.