MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Cutting firewood can be a cost-effective way to warm homes in the winter, but never compromise safety in an attempt to cut home heating bills.
Dannie Reed, Choctaw County extension agent, said using chain saws is a hazardous and sometimes deadly activity. Chain saw accidents are a leading cause of emergency room visits, and some result in fatalities in Mississippi.
"Chain saws are probably the most dangerous of the portable power tools since it has more horsepower and exposed cutting blade than most anything else you can use," Reed said.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Youngsters planning to participate in the Mississippi junior livestock program in 1998 have some studying to do before the season begins in January.
Dr. Joe Baker, extension animal science specialist at Mississippi State University, said 4-H and FFA officials serving on an ethics task force committee decided in February 1997 to make the junior livestock program truly a program for the juniors.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Heavy acorn crops may delight wildlife enthusiasts, but cattle producers recognize the deadly threat to their animals pastured with large numbers of oak trees.
Dr. Richard Hopper, extension veterinarian at Mississippi State University, said it is common for cattle to eat acorns, but few are poisoned by them in the state. Most happen when acorns are abundant and pastures offer little forage.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Like a real roller coaster ride, 1997 left some farmers saying, "Let's go again," and others saying, "No way."
Cold, wet conditions at planting time had row-crop growers struggling to plant fields. As the conditions persisted, the young plants struggled to mature.
"Early season conditions resulted in about 30,000 acres of cotton being destroyed -- mainly in Northeast Mississippi," said Dr. Will McCarty, extension cotton specialist at Mississippi State University.
Growers planted much of the state's cotton later than ideal.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Catfish processing in the state and country is up this year, but production is not as cool weather in the growing season means the fish are smaller.
Nationwide, catfish processing is up 12 percent from September 1996 with 43.5 million pounds processed in September. But the industry is expected to run short of large catfish by spring, given the numbers being processed now and the amount of feed gotten into the catfish.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Everyone loves to see a child's face light up over a special gift on Christmas morning, but adults need to think beyond Dec. 25 as they shop for children's toys.
"Many adults buy gifts with the goal of seeing an excited reaction to the newly opened present," said Dr. Louise Davis, extension child and family development specialist at Mississippi State University. "But the real test of success will be the amount of and quality of play with the toys. How long will the child play with it? How will the toy benefit the child's development?"
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Capture those cherished holiday memories with a familiar camera, as first-time or once-a-year attempts can have disastrous results.
Jim Lytle, senior photographer with Mississippi State University's Office of Agricultural Communications, said many holiday photographers have disappointing results. Many common mistakes result from not knowing the camera well.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Holiday guests may pick over or guess about some hors d'oeuvres, but cheese trays provide a comfortable "safe" place for nibblers to return to.
Many cheese varieties contain a protein value equal to red meat. In today's health-conscious world, however, many people shy away from cheese because of its fat content. Cheeses at the top end of the fat scale can have a fat content up to 75 percent, while most are about 40 to 50 percent fat.
Problems with taste and texture have limited the acceptance of recently developed low-fat cheeses.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The resolute bulldog and cowbell are widely recognized symbols of Mississippi State University, but at the holidays, MSU's distinctive 3-pound Edam cheese "cannon ball" is not far behind.
During the holiday season, MSU sells more than 46,000 balls of Edam cheese. Another 5,000 are sold around Easter.
Noel Hall, MSU dairy plant superintendent, said the Edams have always been popular, but getting one was difficult in the early years.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Once upon a time, people could get away with excuses like not having enough time to shop or too many people at stores, but the Internet has removed those excuses.
Consumer use of the Internet has gone way beyond sending virtual postcards and buying computer parts. With few exceptions, any service or product available in stores or by mail order can now be purchased in cyberspace.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Delta pecan growers have more reason to celebrate than they have had in recent years as the state prepares for its largest harvest since the 1994 ice storm.
Dr. Freddie Rasberry, extension horticulturist at Mississippi State University, said the state has about a dozen commercial orchards, primarily in the Delta. This year's crop will be the largest Delta crop since the February '94 ice storm.
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The idea of teaching youth good ethics rather than just insisting they "be good" is often a novel concept, but some people are out to change that.
Several 4-H programs around the state are teaching basic ethical values to build character in today's youth. These programs include livestock ethics training, Lee County horse camp and the 1996 junior and senior leadership conferences.