Extension News November 2023

"We must find the time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives."

John F Kennedy

The staff at NC Cooperative Extension, Surry County Center, would like to say thank you! We appreciate your support, participation, and willingness to help. You are a treasured gift!

Carmen Long

Family and Consumer Sciences, Area Agent

Turkey Time

I often hear people talk about going out to eat for Thanksgiving. It is easier to eat out than to cook, but I would miss one of the best parts of the holidays, leftovers. I really like opening the refrigerator after a holiday meal and seeing it filled with delicious foods. I enjoy the opportunity to eat many of my favorite things another time. Some of them even taste better the second time and when I am not feeling as stuffed as the turkey.

Follow these tips from the USDA’s Let’s Talk Turkey to make sure your holidays are safe and delicious.

Fresh Turkey

  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Buy your fresh turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
  • Keep it stored in the refrigerator on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak until you're ready to cook it.
  • Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly.

Frozen Turkey

  • Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
  • Keep frozen until you're ready to thaw it.
  • Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however, cook within 1 year for best quality.
  • See "Thawing Your Turkey" for thawing instructions.

For information about turkey, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-674-6854

Holiday Challenge

Happy, Healthier Desserts

Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor

Medicare Annual Open Enrollment Period

Amanda Royall

EFNEP - Youth Program Assistant

Children Can Help Too

Children love to help in the kitchen and are more likely to eat something they helped prepare. Between the age of 2 and 5 children can start assisting with simple tasks like stirring, rinsing, and decorating. Set out 3 or 4 healthy foods, and let your kids make a new snack from them. As you help your kids make the new snack, talk about why it is healthy for them. It’s great for family bonding and fun! Here is a simple recipe that your kids will enjoy making and eating!

Carrot Cake Bites

Seydel Cropps

EFNEP - Extension Program Associate

Avoid Emotional Eating

We all enjoy eating, but we need to be careful if we are eating just to feel better when stressed or sad.

Instead of reaching for your favorite ice cream or cookie, try one of these tips: Get active. Go outside for a brisk walk. Exercise generally makes us feel better. Have only healthy snacks in your pantry or kitchen. This way, you will be less tempted. Distract your mind. Call a friend or listen to uplifting music.

Try your best to think positively, but if the feelings persist, be sure to get help from your doctor or a counselor.

Amanda Gann

4-H Youth Development, Agent

4-H Fundraiser Event

Our Surry County 4-H County Council will be set up at the Holiday Vendor Event at Salem Christian Academy in Dobson on Saturday, November 4th, from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. We will be selling items from Dewey’s Bakery, handmade ornaments, as well as taking orders for live evergreen wreaths and garland from Alleghany County. All of the proceeds from these sales will go into our 4-H program to help youth attend summer camp, participate in leadership development activities, and provide supplies and materials for our 4-H Clubs. Please come out and support our 4-H program! This will be a great chance to get a jump on your holiday shopping while helping our local 4-H’ers!

4-H Holiday Food Show

We would like to invite all of our budding chefs to participate in our 4-H Holiday Food Show! The event will be held on Thursday, November 30th, at 6:00 pm at the Extension Office in Dobson. Youth are invited to decorate a table with any holiday theme of their choice. They will bring a dish they have prepared at home to be scored by our panel of judges. They will be scored on the creativity of their table decorations, the appearance of their dish, the taste of their dish, and their explanation to the judges of how they prepared the dish. Registration for the Holiday Food Show will open on November 1st.

Bailey Wood

Agriculture - Agent Livestock


Parts of an Egg

An egg is a small yet complex system. Chicken eggs contain everything that’s necessary for the chick's development. The air cell is a small pocket of air that forms between the membranes at the eggs wider/blunt end. As the chick develops, this air cell will continue to grow as it becomes the source of air for the chick right before it hatches. The albumen, also known as the egg white, surrounds the yolk and is composed of water and protein. This serves as a food source for the growing embryo and also keeps the embryo moist and protected while the hen sits on the egg and turns it. The chalazae are two rope-like structures of egg whites that hold the yolk in place in the center of the egg. This helps keep the embryo in place instead of floating inside the egg. The germ spot, or germinal disk, is a small white spot on the yolk. If an egg is fertile (having a rooster present to fertilize the egg, which creates the capacity to produce a chick), this is where the embryo would develop. Although the eggs you may buy in the store have a germinal disc, they are not fertile eggs, as no rooster is kept on the farms where eggs for consumption are produced, and a rooster is not needed for a chicken to lay an egg. There are two membranes, which are thin, transparent layers of protein. One holds the yolk, and one holds the albumin. Their purpose is to keep the bacteria out and away from the embryo. The shell is a hard outer covering made of calcium carbonate, which protects the chick. The yolk is stored food to feed the embryo while it grows. It contains vitamins, minerals, some fat, and more protein than the egg white. By the time the chick hatches, it is almost all used up. Everything in the egg works together to support chick development in a fertile egg; however, when the egg is not fertile, such as at the grocery store, eggs are a quick and convenient form of protein (one egg contains 6-7 grams of protein) and many other nutrients. Try to see if you can identify the different parts of an egg the next time you crack one open!

Sorce and Image: web.extension.illinois.edu and sites.ext.vt.edu

Production of Beef Cattle

Have you ever wondered how your food is produced? Producers take many steps to assure that what is on the table is safe and of high quality. Producers are also committed to raising animals in a safe, humane, and environmentally sustainable way. In beef cattle, this process starts with a cow-calf operation. These producers maintain a herd of cows (mature female cattle) that give birth to calves once each year. Over the next few months, these calves live off of their mother’s milk on pastures, where they gradually incorporate the forage into their diet. The product of these operations are the weaned calves, which happens when the calf is anywhere from 6 to 10 months old on average. Calves at this age will weigh anywhere from 450 to 700 pounds. At this point, their diet has changed from mostly being their mother’s milk to grass pastures. They may also start to get a small amount of supplemental feed made up of grains. This is what’s known as stocking and backgrounding calves, they graze pasture as weaned calves and continue to grow typically up until they weigh around 900 pounds, or until they’re about 12 months old. After weaning or the stocker/backgrounder phase, the calves may be sold at livestock markets or through other marketing means. The cattle then often go to an operation called a feedyard. Cattle spend on average 4 to 6 months here, where they are free to graze at feed bunks. These feeds are carefully balanced to meet all of the nutrient requirements of the animals. They are typically made up of roughage (such as grass or hay) and grain (like corn, wheat, or soybean meal). Throughout these different operations and stages of beef production, veterinarians, nutritionists, and the farmer work together to care for the animals. Once the cattle reach market weight (around 1,200 to 1,400 pounds at 18 to 22 months old), they are sent to a processing facility. USDA or state inspectors, in North Carolina this is NCDA&CS, oversee the implementation of safety, animal welfare, and quality standards. From here, final beef products are shipped to grocery stores and restaurants to be purchased by consumers.

Sources: beefitswhatsfordinner.com and farmcreditofvirginia.com

Ryan Coe

Agriculture - Field Crops, Area Agent

Seed Drill

Does Your Seed Drill Need Calibrating?

Making sure your seed drill is properly calibrated can be important when planting small grains, due to the fact that each 50-pound bag, large bulk bag, or even lot size can all have different amounts of small grain seeds per pound. However, you can properly calibrate your drill by following these three simple steps:

Step 1 is determining how many small grain seeds per acre you are wanting to achieve in your planting population. Once you have come up with your planting population target, you will need to convert that number into small grain seeds per square foot by dividing the constant of 43,560 (the amount of square feet per one acre), and this number will be needed later in the calibration to complete step three.

Step 2 is to determine how many square feet the seed drill needs to cover in the field while planting, based on the row spacing setup of the seed drill. For example, let’s say your seed drill is set to plant on 7.5 inches. We can convert 7.5 inches into the square foot of area covered by the seed drill by taking the constant of 144 (the number of inches in one square foot) and dividing by 7.5. Then take the number you received and divide that by 12 (the number of inches in one foot). For the sake of this example, 144 divided by 7.5 equals 19.2, and 19.2 divided by 12 equals 1.6 square foot of area needed for the drill to cover while planting.

Step 3, and the final step, is to determine exactly how much seed the drill needs to be applying while it plants. The most efficient way to figure this out is to measure a specific distance and calculate how many seeds should be coming out of the drill. The easiest way to do this is to convert the circumference of the seed drill wheel into square feet. For example, let’s say the circumference of your seed drill is 7.9 inches. You can take the number figured out from step two (in this example 1.6), using division to get 4.9 square feet, which represents the square feet covered by every revolution of the drive wheel. To effectively get the output of the seed drill, you will then need to take the square feet covered by every revolution of the drive wheel and multiply that by the number you received at the end of step one.

To complete the calibration yourself using the above method, you can simply plug in your own planting population, drill spacing, and drive wheel circumference into the formula below:

Article has been revised from Jenny Carleo, Area Specialized Extension Agent, Grain Crops

Crop Yield Contest

Every year, for traditional grain-producing crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat, there are associated yield contests that farmers are encouraged to participate in here in North Carolina. The purpose of these crop yield contests is to ultimately recognize farmers who are pushing themselves to strive for higher yields, but to also collect production information that helps crop researchers stay cutting-edge by using those production factors in current research trials.

The North Carolina Corn Yield Contest is sponsored by the Corn Growers Association of North Carolina and administered through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Anyone who grows an acre of corn, or more, in North Carolina may enter the contest. The harvested area of the contest entry must be at least one acre in measured size within a single field. Applications for the North Carolina Corn Yield Contest must be submitted no later than December 1 of 2023.

The North Carolina Soybean Yield Contest is sponsored by the North Carolina Soybean Producers Association and is also administered through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service. Anyone who grows at least three acres of soybeans here in North Carolina may enter the contest. However, the field, or portion of a field entered into the contest, must be one contiguous area with at least three acres in measured size. The field, or portion of a field entered into the contest must also be composed of at least three to four measured sides. Applications for the North Carolina Soybean Yield Contest must be submitted no later than December 10 of 2023.

Joanna Radford

County Extension Director, & Extension Agent, Commercial & Consumer Horticulture

Meet Wally

Extension Master Gardener volunteers worked hard setting up our new grow tower. This is an aeroponic system that suspends roots in the air and are exposed to water and nutrients. The system does not need much space. Numerous plants can be grown to provide fresh, healthy food for families. Currently, this tower is growing chives, cilantro, basil, dill, and numerous lettuces. Harvest has occurred multiple times in the past two months. Come by the Extension Center and check it out for yourself!

Thank you, James and Severin Garrett with Greenhouse Towers for the tower and healthy transplants.

August 24 – Extension Master Gardener volunteers, Sue Miles, Susan Martin, and Sharon Johnson pictured with Wally the Grow Tower.
Wally ready or another harvest

Freeze Warning for Houseplants

Freezing temperatures are here in most areas of the county. If they have not reached you, they will before long. Our average freeze in the fall is October 22. So, hold on!

Remember to check potted houseplants for hitchhiking insects and then bring them inside. Treat for insects as necessary so you do not have unwelcome visitors. Cut back on your fertilization rate to half of what you used when the plants were outside. Do not push growth when going into wintertime and the day length is shorter.

Rhododendrons and Camellias

It is time to take cuttings of rhododendrons and camellias.

Photo Credit: Black Tie' at NHC Arboretum in Wilmington, NC
Photo Credit: Random Photo Guy @ www.istockphoto.com

Mulching Tip

Avoid mounding mulch too close to the trunk bases of trees and shrubs. The mulch will provide cover for rodents to nibble on the juicy bark and may cause the trunks to rot from added moisture.

Horticulture Workshops

Photo Credit: 'Double Ellen Pink' yellow stamens in the center (Wake County, NC) Cathy Dewitt

Love Those Lenten Roses

Three “Love Those Lenten Roses” workshops offered. These workshops are free but may require participants to bring in something to help with the cost. Registration is required. Call the number at the location you want to attend. Dates and times are below:

Tuesday, November 7, 1:00 pm at the Mount Airy Senior Center 336-415-4225

Tuesday, November 14, 1:00 pm at the Pilot Mountain Senior Center

Room 205 336-368-2012 ext. 203

Friday, November 17, 2:00 pm at the Mt. Airy Public Library, 336-789-5108

Holiday Wreath Making

Two hands-on, in-person “Holiday Wreath Making” workshops are to be held at the Extension Center in Dobson on Tuesday, 28. There will be two identical classes offered with limited spaces. Workshop 1 will be held from 10 am to 12 noon. Workshop 2 will be held from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm.

Participants will learn how to make a fresh evergreen wreath, bows, and a few other decorating techniques. The cost of the class is $50 and covers all supplies needed. Participants will leave the class with their own beautiful evergreen wreath for the holidays!

Each class is limited to the first 12 people to sign up. Registration is required. You may register for Workshop 1: Holiday Wreath Making from 10 am to 12 noon.

Workshop 2: Holiday Wreath Making from 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

Lunch and Learn Webinar


Our Lunch and Learn online webinar series continues on November 9 with “Invasive Plant Identification and Removal”. Bring your lunch and learn how to identify invasive species and how to remove them from your landscape. Fall is the ideal time to remove these from the landscape. You may register at the link.

Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Certification Class

Extension Master Gardener Volunteer (EMGV) applications are being accepted now through December 15 for the 2023 year. EMGVs are gardeners who are dedicated to learning and sharing research-based information to enhance their communities here in Surry County. If you do not reside in our county, visit your local Cooperative Extension and inquire about their program for EMGVs.

Becoming an Extension Master Gardener volunteer begins with applying and being accepted into our local program. Applications can be found on our NC Cooperative Extension, Surry Center website at the below link.

Once accepted into the program, the initial EMGV training begins with an in-person classroom course. This course introduces a wide range of horticultural topics. This course consists of 40 hours of instruction and is taught by Extension staff and certified Extension Master Gardener volunteers. There is an end-of-the course test, but no worries; you will know the information by the time you take it.

Once the initial training is complete, volunteers complete a 40-hour internship to learn even more about horticulture and give back to their communities. During this internship, volunteers rotate through a variety of volunteer opportunities that support the educational outreach priorities of our local Extension center. Volunteers are also paired with a mentor to help navigate this portion of the program. This is the fun part of the program!!

When the 40-hour internship is complete, volunteers are eligible to become a certified Extension Master Gardener volunteer. In order to remain active in the program, Master Gardener volunteers must meet annual re-certification requirements. They vary by county. For Surry County, each volunteer must have a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education.

WIFM 100.9 Radio

November features Surry County Extension agents on Extension Today WIFM 100.9 radio. Listen in on Wednesdays at 9:05 am and Saturdays at 10:05 am