Tips to Reduce the Chance of Flood Damage to Your Home

With Utah’s high amounts of snowfall this year, flooding is a possibility in many areas. For anyone who has experienced the impacts of water or mud inundating their home, this may induce a sense of helplessness. 

Fortunately, there are many things that can be done now to prevent or lessen the possibility of flooding in and around your home. The Extension Disaster Education Network offers tips to help, including a publication from North Dakota State University titled, “Steps to Reduce Flood and Water Damage,” which includes the following tips:

Move snow away from your home’s foundation. Moving snow just 3 to 5 feet from the house can reduce problems if the ground is sloped 1 inch per foot near the house.

Prevent water from entering window wells. Build dams, and contour the ground so water will naturally drain away from the house. You can do this with sandbags or by adjusting the landscaping.

* Check your sump pump. Clean the sump pump and pit, and test the pump by pouring water into the pit. Consider having a spare submersible portable sump pump. Make sure the discharge hose delivers the water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area that slopes away from the house. If the hose outlet is too close to the house foundation or on flat ground, the water may simply recycle down through the house drain tile. Don’t run sump pump water into a rural septic system because the water may saturate the drain field.

Be sure downspouts are in place. As snow melts, downspouts can be helpful in carrying water away from the house. Use caution if they are buried or frozen and need to be repositioned, as salt or chemicals to melt the ice could damage the lawn in the spring.

Plan an escape route if roads or streets around you are known to flood. Where would you go if your home flooded? Consider local shelters or a family member or friend’s house. Plan and practice an evacuation route with your family.

Plan for pets. Pets aren’t allowed in shelters due to health regulations. If left behind, stressed pets can damage your house, and their safety is at stake, too. Have a plan in place so you know where your pets will go in an emergency.

* Know where and how to safely shut off electricity and how to plug basement floor drains.

Assemble supplies in case the electricity goes out. This includes water, food that requires no refrigeration or cooking, a non-electric can opener, a battery-powered radio and flashlight, as well as extra batteries.

Move valuables off the floor. These include irreplaceable family photo albums, high school yearbooks, videotapes, tax records, insurance policies, household inventories, and other valuable items.

Move hazardous materials to higher locations, including paint, oil, and cleaning supplies. These and other dangerous materials should not be left on the floor.

Have emergency supplies on hand in case of an evacuation order. Gather water, nonperishable food, paper plates/cups and plastic utensils, extra clothing and shoes, blankets or sleeping bags, a first aid kit, prescription medications, cash and credit cards, important phone numbers, and specific items for babies, pets, and the elderly.

Prepare appliances for flooding. Know where fuse boxes or breaker panels are so you can shut off appliances if it becomes necessary. Place freezers, washer, dryers, and other appliances on wood or cement blocks to keep motors above the water level. If high water is imminent and large appliances can’t be moved, wrap them in polyethylene film, tying the film in place with a cord or rope. The water may still get in, but most of the silt won’t, which will make cleanup easier.

* Teach adults and older children where water service mains and natural gas mains are and how to turn them off if necessary.

* Be open and honest with children. Hiding the situation from them may be even more stressful than talking openly. Let them know that you have a plan.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Since “knowledge is power,” using knowledge to lessen or prevent damage to home and property and preserve a sense of emotional well-being and safety is a helpful way to exercise personal power.

To see the complete article, visit https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/disasters/steps-to-reduce-flood-and-water-damage.

By: Kathy Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, Kathleen.Riggs@usu.edu,


Five Ways to Share the Mental Load in Marriage

Have you ever felt mentally exhausted as you try to remember the never-ending to-do list in your head?

It goes something like this:

Remember to bring a treat to your child’s class party, call the insurance company about an unclear charge, return an Amazon package, and call in that prescription. Which reminds you, it’s time to get your dog’s heartworm medicine ordered, and don’t forget to buy a gift for your child for the birthday party on Friday, and wash the track uniform for the track meet, also on Friday…yikes!

There is a massive mental work load that people tend to carry in their heads. And by people, we mean mothers.

Studies suggest that the bulk of  “worry work” is mainly carried by moms – nearly 9 out of 10 of them say they feel solely responsible for organizing the family’s schedule.

Why is this so exhausting?

It turns out that the brain can only really focus on three to four things at a time. When it switches focus between tasks and upcoming tasks, it uses brain energy, and there’s only so much of it to go around. It doesn’t take long for this invisible work and mental load to take its toll and overflow!

The result? Frustrated, burned out, stressed out, overwhelmed, anxious moms. And this leads to connection killers in relationships: anger and resentment.

It’s not possible to keep up with the physical, mental, and emotional work at a crazy pace without it taking a toll on your relationships with your children and your partner. One sure sign it’s gone too far? Having a tough time controlling your temper, tongue, and tone of voice at home.

Here are five ways couples can share the mental load.

1. Bring awareness to the invisible work. Raise awareness about your mental load and the toll it’s taking. If it’s not on your partner’s radar, change will seldom happen, and burnout and resentment will continue.

Without criticizing or attacking, offer some concrete examples of what you are experiencing. For example, “I often feel exhausted and mentally tired. I’ve recently read about what it may be stemming from – it’s called ‘worry work,’ and I’d love to share what I’ve been experiencing.” Then share a few examples. Make it clear that this isn’t you just worrying too much or complaining. It’s an exhausting mental load that affects your mood and attitude throughout the day, and it spills over into family relationships.

2. Divide and decide. After you discuss the load, it’s time to share the load. This will look different for every family situation. For the partner who is not carrying the bulk of the worry work, instead of responding with, “Just tell me what to do,” try something like, “I’ve noticed you have a lot on your plate. I don’t always know what to do to help you, so can you give me some things to take on as my responsibility?”

3. Lighten the load with technology. We have a lot of great technology that can help us get the worry out of our brains and onto a task list. For example, Alexa or Siri can add items to your grocery list and set reminders. You can also set up auto-orders on things such as toilet paper, laundry detergent, pet food, and paper towels to lighten your brain load. Or try apps for planning and organizing that are shared across the family. Maple, Bublup, and Todoist are just a few that allow you to add tasks and to-dos that can be assigned and shared across devices.

4. Let go of control. While the mental load can feel overwhelming, for some women it may seem easier to just do it all rather than risk it not getting done right. For example, women can often fall into the habit of gatekeeping when it comes to household labor. This may include monitoring, criticizing, or correcting the way her partner or child does chores, which may easily discourage them from fully engaging. Try letting go of some control by discussing each of your strengths, challenges, and preferences. Allow everyone to try new things and be patient through changes.

5. Keep checking in. Have regular conversations. Remember these require patience, flexibility, awareness, and expressions of appreciation for both partners. Discuss upcoming activities that bring stress. A helpful question is, “Tell me what your day looks like tomorrow,” then see what you can do to help lighten the mental load.

But be aware – it is best for couples NOT to discuss any of this when either of you are feeling: hungry, angry, hangry, lonely, or tired. Late at night in bed is not the best time to bring up demands and to-dos.

“Worry work” is quickly becoming one of the top struggles for couples, but it is often not talked about. It is important for each partner to be mindful of the other and communicate regularly to avoid burnout and resentment. It is definitely worth the effort to help keep balance and peace at home.

March Gardening Checklist

It’s not too early to think about the gardening season! Consider these tips to help you prepare. Included are links from the Utah State University Extension Gardener’s Almanac.

  • Plant cool-season vegetable seeds, such as peas, lettuce, and radishes, as soon as garden soil is workable. Consider planting peas in the garden every 2-3 weeks (until early May) to extend the harvest.
  • If you didn’t get to it in the fall, add organic matter to the vegetable garden to help build and amend the soil.
  • Avoid compacted soil by not tilling wet or saturated garden soil.
  • Once snow is melted, consider taking soil samples to determine fertilizer needs.
  • Consider backyard composting or vermiculture (composting with worms).
  • If storing bulbs, check to make sure they are firm, and remove any that are soft or rotten.
  • If they are locally available, plan to plant bare root trees and shrubs, keeping the exposed roots moist until planted.
  • Remove protective trunk wrap and burlap from trees after the snow has melted.
  • Fertilize spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, fritillaria, and crocus.
  • Plant cold-hardy pansies and primrose to add a pop of color.
  • Subscribe to the Utah Pests IPM Advisories for timely tips on controlling pests in your yard and garden.
  • Prune fruit trees such as apples, pears, peaches, cherries, plums, and apricots.
  • Attend a USU Extension-sponsored pruning demonstration near you.
  • Apply horticulture oils at bud break (delayed dormant) in fruit trees to control overwintering insect pests.
  • Apply pre-emergent herbicides in late March to mid April to control annual weeds such as crabgrass and spurge in your lawn.
  • Sharpen mower blades and prepare for the season. Set mower height to mow 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall, and mow at this height during the summer.
  • Consider planting a native fruiting species in the landscape, such as chokecherryelderberryserviceberry or currant.

Pests and Problems:

  • Download the Utah Home Orchard Pest Management Guide for tips and information.
  • Be aware that aspen leaf spot may be prevalent during cool, wet springs. Control measures should be taken at bud break.
  • Control rust mites in apple and pear trees after leaves have emerged and expanded by 1/2 inch.
  • Learn about damping-off, a fungal disease that affects new seedlings.
  • Be aware that anthracnose may be prevalent during cool, wet springs. Control measures should be taken at bud break.
  • Apply dormant oil for pears when leaf buds swell, which smothers pear psylla eggs that are laid on buds by overwintering adults.
  • For more tips, visit garden.usu.edu. Here you will find information on gardening courses, growing and maintaining the yard and garden, drought resources, and the Extension Gardener’s Almanac with tips for each month.

Six Tips to Help Jump-Start Your Savings

The week of February 27 to March 3, 2023, is both Utah Saves Week and America Saves Week. Since 2007, both have been held the last week of February to help people focus on saving money. For some people, it can be daunting to get started, but the America Saves Week website can help you set goals and sign up for email and text reminders to keep you on track. Consider these tips.

1) Save automatically. This is the secret sauce to financial success. Automatically having your money direct deposited from your paycheck into a savings account increases your chances of saving by 100%. And if the money is out of sight and out of mind, you are less likely to withdraw it for random purchases. The book, The Automatic Millionaire, by David Bach, is helpful for anyone who wants to become a regular saver. If you don’t have automatic savings set up, this is a great first step.

2) Save for the unexpected opportunity. We talk a lot about saving for an emergency, but what about saving for an unexpected opportunity as well?  When you have money set aside for the unexpected, whether it be an emergency or an opportunity, you’ll have a stash of cash ready to go. Take the automatic savings you just set up and put some away for the unexpected.

3) Save to retire. We spend most of our lives working in order to pay for our house, food, cars, entertainment, etc., but putting yourself first and saving money for your future is also a wise move. One way to do this is to set up your retirement contribution so it is a specific percentage of your income. That way, as your income increases, so does the amount you contribute to retirement, all without you even noticing. 

4) Save by reducing debt. If automatic savings is the secret sauce for financial success, reducing your debt is definitely the cherry on top. Paying down debt frees up money that was going toward interest. Check out www.powerpay.org for a free tool that helps you create a self-directed debt elimination plan using “power” or “snowball” payments. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can pay down debt and free up money for savings.

5) Save as a family. Make saving a family affair. Talking to your kids about money and empowering them to make good financial decisions is not something you will ever regret. No parent has ever said, “I taught my child to save too much money!” Setting a goal as a family to save for something fun you all want to do together can create a lasting impact on your children. Even if you don’t have children and it is just you and a significant other, setting goals together can help you achieve financial success, have fun together, and give you built-in accountability to reach your goals. 

6) Save for college. Make educational savings simple by investing in a college savings plan like my529, Utah’s official 529 educational savings plan. Funds can help pay for qualified educational expenses like tuition, books, computers, and other supplies for traditional and technical colleges. Savings can also be used for K-12 tuition expenses, apprenticeships, and student loan repayments up to specified amounts. Your employer may be able to help you set up an automatic, after-tax contribution directly from your paycheck into your account.

Remember, it’s never too late to start saving. Let Utah Saves Week and America Saves Week motivate you to get started.

By:  Amanda H. Christensen, Utah State University Extension professor

Contact:  Melanie Jewkes, USU Extension professor, Melanie.Jewkes@usu.edu, (385) 468-4838

Tips for Cold Weather Survival

With Utah’s frigid temperatures, it is essential to keep your family and pets safe from the cold. While we may not anticipate that the furnace could stop working or that the power could go out, these things are possible, so it’s important to be prepared.

According to the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), preparing for winter includes understanding weather-related terms, winterizing homes and vehicles, and protecting family members, pets, livestock, and neighbors. (See https://extensiondisaster.net/hazard-resources/naturally-occurring/winter-weather/.) Consider these tips to stay warm and safe this winter.

* Prepare your vehicle. Ensure it is in good working condition and has at least a half tank of fuel at all times. EDEN recommends that each vehicle be equipped with a winter car kit that includes a shovel, blankets, extra mittens, socks, hats, booster cables, a flashlight with batteries, a brightly colored cloth to use as a flag, a first aid kit, snacks, and water. 

* Pay attention to weather forecasts. With current technology, it is easy to be aware of the coming weather conditions. A local TV meteorologist uses the slogan, “Know before you go.” That’s sound advice before leaving home, whether for the day or a more extended adventure. 

* Dress appropriately. Wear layers of loose, lightweight clothing and boots, hats, and mittens. EDEN notes that mittens are preferred since they allow fingers to be together, which keeps hands warmer.

Much of the body’s heat escapes through the head, so hats and scarves are important for covering the head and ears. Scarves can also protect the nose and mouth by keeping frigid air from getting into the lungs. Overexertion is common when shoveling heavy snow, so protect your back and heart by taking frequent breaks and drinking water to stay hydrated. 

* Prepare for utility outages. While utility companies strive to keep power up and running, wind, snow, ice, or a combination can wreak havoc on power lines. If you choose to use generators, wood-burning stoves, or other heat sources, be aware that they may produce dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Be sure to circulate the air with an exhaust fan, or crack a window open. A battery hand-crank weather alert radio is helpful to have on hand.

* Protect pets and farm animals. Pets are especially susceptible to frostbite on their ears, tails, and paws, and outside pets need extra calories to stay warm. Take measures to ensure their drinking water doesn’t freeze. If pets are dry and have enough shelter to fend off wind and snow, they can withstand the cold conditions easier. While livestock tend to be heartier than family pets, they also benefit from a windbreak such as trees, shrubs, or some type of a cover. They need a place to lie down that is not covered in snow and the ability to reach their food and water.

           If you’re not fully prepared for our current winter conditions, take steps now. It will leave you feeling less vulnerable and more able to withstand whatever Mother Nature sends our way.

By: Kathleen Riggs, Utah State University Extension professor, kathleen.riggs@usu.edu, 435-586-8132

Strengthening Attachment to Allow Teens Choice and Responsibility without Dangerous Behavior

Adolescence marks an exciting time full of growth and change in a child’s life, but even with their growing desire for independence, they still need support and guidance from their parents. We know that the adolescent brain continues developing well into the mid-20’s, with the parts of the brain that help with things like risk assessment, impulse control, and decision-making being the last to develop (Casey et al., 2008). On the other hand, the emotional, sensory, and reward-seeking parts develop first (Casey et al., 2008), making it natural for teens to have a strong urge to seek out new and exciting experiences without always thinking through the consequences (Konrad et al., 2013).

As a result of this brain development, some parenting strategies that work for younger children no longer work for teens (Yeager et al., 2018). Even though parents may not want to let go, attempting to manipulate or control their teens will push them away and undermine their need for closeness and autonomy (Scharf & Goldner, 2018). Luckily, teens who have secure emotional attachments with their parents are less likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors and have better social skills and coping strategies (Moretti & Peled, 2004). No matter your teen’s age, it’s not too late to implement some strategies for improving your parenting skills and relationships. Start to strengthen attachment with your teens today with the following tips:

  1. Set firm limits and rules: Being emotionally close with your teen does not mean you can’t have rules and boundaries. In fact, children will feel safer in a relationship when they know there are high expectations, as well as love and trust (Gottman & DeClaire, 1997). Don’t be afraid to let them know what types of behaviors you do not approve of, but help them feel that they can feel safe asking for help if they mess up.
  2. Show your teen the same respect you expect: When teens sense a threat to their growing autonomy through adults’ attempts to control them, they tend to shut down and refuse to cooperate (Divecha, 2017). Make sure to talk openly with your teens, listen to their perspective, and respect their opinions and budding personality.
  3. Support them in safe exploration: You can support your teens in activities that give them the thrilling experiences they seek with activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, amusement park rides, or other pro-social activities that utilize their talents while pushing them a little outside their comfort zone. Safe exploration can benefit youth by increasing their confidence and helping them develop independence (Kelley et al., 2006).
  4. Don’t take their choices personally: When your teen opts to make choices that you wouldn’t make yourself, it can cause a lot of emotions, ranging from hurt to frustration to outright anger. However, being able to regulate your own emotions will not only preserve your relationship with your teen, but also set a good example for them on the importance of coping with emotions (Hajal & Paley, 2020).

As you look for resources to be the best parent you can be, remember that you don’t have to do it alone. If you are concerned about your teen’s safety, looking for help from school administrators, teachers, counselors, family members, or other community resources can be helpful. Healthy relationships with strong attachments to positive role models is key. These healthy attachments provide teens with positive examples, safety, encouragement, access to resources, and new experiences that focus on safely gaining independence and responsibility (Davis & McQuillin, 2021). Start strengthening attachments with teens today with these tips and the following resources.

Additional Resources:


Casey, B. J., Getz, S., & Galvan, A. (2008). The adolescent brain. Developmental review28(1), 62-77.

Davis AL, McQuillin SD. (2021). Supporting autonomy in youth mentoring relationships. J Community Psychol. 2022 Jan;50(1):329-347. doi: 10.1002/jcop.22567. Epub 2021 Mar 30. PMID: 33786867.

Divecha, D. (2017). Teenagers might have a problem with respect but it’s not the one our think. Developmental Science. Retrieved December 8, 2022, from https://www.developmentalscience.com/blog/2017/11/29/teenagers-might-have-a-problem-with-respect-but-its-not-the-one-you-think

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227-268. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327965PLI1104_01

Gottman, J. M., & DeClaire, J. (1997). The heart of parenting: How to raise an emotionally intelligent child. Bloomsbury.

Hajal, N. J., & Paley, B. (2020). Parental emotion and emotion regulation: A critical target of study for research and intervention to promote child emotion socialization. Developmental Psychology56(3), 403.

Kelley, A. E., Schochet, T., & Landry, C. F. (2004). Risk taking and novelty seeking in adolescence: Introduction to part I. In R. E. Dahl & L. P. Spear (Eds.), Adolescent brain development: Vulnerabilities and opportunities. (Vol. 1021, pp. 27–32). New York Academy of Sciences.

Konrad K, Firk C, Uhlhaas PJ. Brain development during adolescence: neuroscientific insights into this developmental period. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2013 Jun;110(25):425-31. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2013.0425. Epub 2013 Jun 21. PMID: 23840287; PMCID: PMC3705203.

Moretti MM, Peled M. Adolescent-parent attachment: Bonds that support healthy development. Paediatr Child Health. 2004 Oct;9(8):551-555. doi: 10.1093/pch/9.8.551. PMID: 19680483; PMCID: PMC2724162.

Scharf, M., & Goldner, L. (2018). “If our really love me, our will do/be…”: Parental psychological control and its Implications for children’s adjustment. Developmental Review49, 16-30.

Yeager, D. S., Dahl, R. E., & Dweck, C. S. (2018). Why interventions to influence adolescent behavior often fail but could succeed. Perspectives on Psychological Science13(1), 101-122.

By Josie Hatch, BS, Health & Wellness Coordinator & Ashley Yaugher, PhD, Health & Wellness Faculty

How Can We Keep Our Marriage Strong as We Age?

As couples age, keeping a marriage strong can become a challenge. Children move away, mental and physical health challenges arise, complacency creeps in, and retirement can create more time together than you are used to. For these reasons and others, gray divorce – the divorce rate among adults 50 and older – has doubled since 1990.

Consider these tips to nurture your marriage as you grow old together.

  • “TNT” try new things. Keep your relationship alive by finding new ways to play together. Try new activities or sports, take a class together, try new restaurants, or go to events you may not otherwise attend. It might include going on that bucket list vacation or buying season tickets to the theater or a sporting event. We tend to be creatures of habit, so overcoming autopilot and being open to adventure is essential. 

  • Keep communicating. Stay in tune with who your partner is and who they are becoming. We all change over time and may develop new preferences or have new goals, dreams, and plans. Turn the TV off and put your phone in another room regularly so you can connect. Have check-in conversations at least weekly to discuss upcoming plans, expectations, and schedules to keep you on the same page.

  • Avoid affection deprivation. Stay in touch. As we grow older, it is common for couples to experience relationship ruts, and many tend to demonstrate less physical affection. Research continues to show the power of touch. Whether you are holding hands, hugging, giving gentle pats, or sitting next to each other while watching a movie, an electrical connection occurs, and chemicals of love and attachment are released. This, in turn, can draw you closer together and help relieve stress. Affection can also be shown through surprises, gifts, saying I love you, and random acts of service.

  • Balance time together and time apart. When children move out of the house, couples often have more time on their hands. While trying new things together is important, time apart can also benefit your relationship. Have lunch with a friend, neighbor, or sibling. Spend an afternoon or evening with friends playing a sport or participating in a club. These activities can be invigorating and interesting, causing the positivity and happiness to spill over into your relationship at home. In addition, having downtime doing something you enjoy can be refreshing and provide a boost to you, which, in turn, boosts your relationship.

Teaching Children to Clean: Lessons Learned from a Mom

You may be familiar with the “Telephone Game” where the first player will whisper a statement in the second player’s ear and down the line it goes until the last player says, out loud, the statement and everyone laughs because, while it may have a shadow of the original statement, it isn’t close to it.  Well, here is my “telephone game” version of cleaning.  Years ago, I attended a seminar on organization.  Afterwards I overheard a friend who mention the words “FlyLady method and 15 minutes.  Much like the telephone game, I took the what I “heard” my friend say and started using the ideas in my own home.  Following is my “telephone game” version of cleaning and it only takes 15 minutes a day.                   

  • Start when your children are young. You can start by asking very young children to pick up a toy and hand it to you for you to put away.  Small children love to be involved, so make a game of it. 
  • Pre-school through grade 2. Instead of telling them, “Go clean your room”, go with them and help them clean their room.  I found out early, as a mom, if I gave each child a verbal list of what to do it didn’t happen.  The child enters their room where multiple toys and dirty clothes are strewn about resulting in it being overwhelming to them and they won’t know where to start, so they don’t.  They sit down amongst the clutter and play or shove it all under the bed. This is where a little positive parental time will provide big dividends.  You join the child cleaning, sit by the toy box and have the child pick up and bring the toys to you, then move to the next item, say, dirty clothes.  Tackle each category individually.  Soon the room is clean and as long as no yelling occurred, everyone is happy and feels accomplished.
  • Now for the rest of the house and ages. Make a list of what you would like cleaned in each room of your house.  For example, you may select the living room and determine you would like the floor vacuumed, furniture and lamps dusted, baseboards cleaned, and cobwebs removed. Create a cleaning wish list for each room that can be checked off, drawn out of a hat, or visually referenced.
  • Assign one or two rooms (depending on the size of the room), each day, to be cleaned (Monday-Livingroom, Tuesday-Kitchen…you get the idea). I divided the rooms in my home to clean during the week in order to have the weekend free.  Gather all family members and let each person select items from your cleaning wish list to clean in the room of the day. 

There are things that won’t be cleaned every week but, at least once a month everything in each room will be cleaned.  This was life changing for my family.  Yes, my children grumbled about cleaning at first but once they realized I was serious that it would only take 15 minutes they became willing participants. 


Cilley, M. 2002. Sink Reflections, Bantam Books.

Update on Avian Influenza in Utah

Nearly 2.2 million birds in Utah were lost to the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) between April 2022 and January 2023. This total includes eight non-commercial poultry flocks, 18 commercial egg layer and turkey flocks, and one commercial gamebird facility. Non-commercial detections in backyard chicken flocks and petting zoos have occurred in Cache, Utah, Salt Lake, and Weber counties.

            Live wild bird surveillance has shown the virus in various dabbling duck species, including the mallard, gadwall, cinnamon teal, green-winged teal, Northern shoveler, and American widgeon. Wild bird morbidity surveillance has detected the virus in owls, hawks, gulls, pelicans, eared grebe, black-crowned night heron, and the turkey vulture. 

           The most prevalent species with HPAI has been the Canada goose. This is significant because waterfowl are the natural carriers of avian influenza viruses and typically do not die as a result of the virus; however, the current strain of HPAI is lethal enough to kill even waterfowl. 

            Although we have been fortunate to have HPAI detections drop this winter, some areas of the country have not been so lucky. As we approach the spring months, it is uncertain whether we will experience another wave of outbreaks during spring migration. Work still needs to be done to determine exactly how the initial introduction of HPAI occurs. 

            What we do know is that once introduced, the virus is transmitted from flock to flock through contaminated equipment and people. Consider these tips to prevent virus transmission.

            * Practice strict adherence to washing hands, using dedicated clothing and footwear, and avoiding neighbors’ flocks. 

            * Do not take care of your poultry immediately after hunting; shower and change into clean clothes first. 

            * Keep all domestic poultry and gamebirds enclosed and away from wild birds.

            * Avoid using water from open sources, such as ponds, canals, and ditches, for poultry drinking and to wash equipment where your birds have access. These sources could contain the HPAI virus, especially if they are accessible to waterfowl. If the virus is found in live bird samples, it indicates that our resident waterfowl must be considered potential carriers and shedders. 

            Poultry flocks infected with HPAI will experience sudden high mortality and usually no signs of sickness before death. If you suspect your home flock may have HPAI, contact the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food or the state veterinarian’s office at statevet@utah.gov immediately.

            Although sporadic cases have been reported, avian influenza viruses pose minimal danger of causing clinical disease in humans. 

Winter Garden Planning Tips

If the spike in gardening interest the last few years is any indication of what 2023 will be like, now is the perfect time to start planning! Consider these tips and links from the Utah State University Extension Gardeners Almanac.

  • Peruse garden/seed catalogues to help determine new vegetable varieties to try in the garden.
  • Plan out and design the vegetable garden. Try to implement crop rotation of vegetable families to reduce disease buildup.
  • Consider growing herbs and/or microgreens indoors to add fresh greens to your diet.
  • Use deicing compounds sparingly to avoid salt damage to landscape plants.
  • If storing bulbs, check their condition to ensure they are firm. Remove any that are soft or rotten.
  • Perform routine maintenance on lawn mowers and other small engine garden equipment.
  • Sign up to become a member of the USU Botanical Gardens and receive discounts on classes and workshops along with other special benefits.
  • Look for specific gardening information at garden.usu.edu. Here you will find information on fruit, vegetable, and herb growing guides as well as tips on soil, lawn, yard, tree, shrub, and flower care. Also included are monthly tips, the basics of gardening, information on drought, events, classes, and more.