WSU Extension Q&A: What you should know about kids petting fair animals

August 15, 2013 

Q. My children love to pet the animals at the fair. What should I be concerned about?

A. Remember, most of these animals are not pets and can be somewhat unpredictable, so always ask the handler before allowing children to pet any animal.

It is also important to remember that any place where people come into contact with farm animals, such as at fairs and petting zoos, there is a potential risk of being exposed to pathogens such as E.coli. Therefore, it is critical to wash your hands before and after visiting or petting animals or touching pens, cages or stalls. This is especially important for small children who are at greater risk of developing serious, long-term damage as a result of exposure to E. coli.

Q. How can I tell if the home canning recipes I find on the Internet are safe to use?

A. The most important thing to realize is that all of the recipes may not have been tested to guarantee the safety of the bottled product. Recipes for canning require thermal-process testing to assure the product can be stored at room temperature without spoiling or causing illness or death. When someone comments “they tried it and have not had any problems,” it is not a guarantee of safety. When canning, the best advice is to follow recipes from a reputable source such as the Ball Blue Book of Preserving or USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning.

Q. When is the best time to seed alfalfa?

A. In the Columbia Basin, the earlier in August the better. For each week you delay from Aug. 1 you lose about 0.46 tons/a. Seeding at this time offers significant advantages. Temperatures favor rapid emergence and development of alfalfa seedlings. Alfalfa plants seeded in August continue to grow and develop during the fall and spring. By mid-spring, alfalfa plants are well established and the result is a first-year yield similar to that from a two-year old stand and much greater than a spring seeded stand.

A recent study near Pasco showed the first four cuts from plots seeded in the first two weeks of August had almost a 2-ton yield advantage over those planted the first two weeks in September. They had a three-ton advantage to a seedling planted Sept. 22.

-- Questions should be called in to the WSU Extension offices in Kennewick at 735-3551 or Pasco at 545-3511.

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