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My First Teal Hunt

“Have you ever been on a Teal hunt?” That was a question I got asked last week, and I am pretty sure what came out of my moth was “What is Teal?”. Growing up in Florida, my family hunted hogs, turkey and whitetail, but never duck. So, when Ben Anderson and his wife Ashley invited me to go on a Teal hunt with them, I jumped at the opportunity; even though I didn’t have a TX hunting license. But I did have my camera and that was good enough for me!  

When 4:45 am hit on Saturday, I was up, dressed, and out the door with my camera bag and cup of coffee ready to me the Andersons at 6 am in Lissie, TX. Once I met up with Ben, Ashley and a few of their friends, we were off to one of Ben’s rice fields that he had scoped out the evening before. By the time we got unloaded, drove the Gator to our spot, and got the decoys set up it was just about 7am. Barely able to see with all the fog and the sun just starting to light the sky, I put on my rubber boots, someone’s extra pair of water pants, and sat down in the middle of a road that separated 2 rice fields.  

I think everyone kinda expected to meet our limit of 30 Teal within an hour. Due to the fog, that “hour” quickly turned into 3, only shooting singles and doubles. For those of you who do not know, singles and doubles mean one or two birds flying together, not in a group. The group ended up getting 18 Teal and I had an absolute blast! Now do I get my hunting license or do I buy a pair of waders? Thanks Ben and Ashley for allowing me to tag along! 

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National Farmer’s Market Week

National Farmer’s Market week is August 7-13th. This designated time is to celebrate and bring awareness to farmers, ranchers and businesses related to local agriculture. Why are farmer’s markets so popular when your local grocery stores offer a wide variety of similar products in one place? The attraction of going to a farmer’s markets goes beyond just an offering of produce. Most markets include items like baked goods, fresh eggs, soaps and canned goods such as jams and pickles. Farmer’s markets offer the consumer a wide variety of products that families, farms, ranches, and businesses bring. Farmers markets are a big part of the history of the United States. Your local farmer’s markets offer a glimpse into the past. Demonstrating just how rural commerce was done since trade began between the Puritans and the Indians.  

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So why not try one out? Here are 4 reasons why you should go to your local farmer’s market every chance you get! 

  1. Supports local economy and farming and ranching families: When you shop at farmer’s markets, you are supporting local families, farms, ranches and businesses, in addition to boosting your local economy. Shopping local is a great way to meet area producers who can provide products to your family all year long. 
  2. Fresh and seasonal: Fresh just taste better. So, while walking around a farmer’s market, you can see all the fresh, seasonal possibilities for snacks or dinner. 
  3. An affordable variety: At farmer’s markets, many booths offer the same types of products. If you like to bargain shop this allows you to find comparable fruits and vegetables for the best price.  
  4. Social: Local farmer’s markets can be fun and social. You can make it a fun trip for the family. Make it an educational trip for the kids by talking to the vendors about how they grow or produce their products. Most are happy and excited to share in the process. Once you purchase something, have your kids taste it! You can’t do that at the local store! The kids will remember that experience for a lifetime. 

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Though the reasons to shop at a farmer’s market are convincing, you may wonder where you will be able to find one near you. Here is a list of just a few of the local farmer’s markets.  

Local markets: 

If you live in or very close to the city of Houston, check out these:

 

So, get outside and go to your local farmer’s market this weekend! Not only will you be supporting your local economy, but it will also be fun!

4 Tips to Help Cure the Summer Time Weeds

Its summer time! That means hot days, afternoon showers, and WEEDS! Those darn weeds. They are annoying and a pain in the rear end! Now, almost everyone has their own concoction to gets rid of weeds. Here is the problem though, a majority of the time, weeds come back! So how do you get rid of them?

Alan Jackson has the answer: there ain’t no cure for the summer time weeds! Ok, he may have not sang it exactly that way, but it’s true, there ain’t no cure. You can try your hardest to get rid of them, but they will always win. However, here are some tips and tricks to try to keep them under control!

  • Walk your flower beds every other week – Hand pulling weeds every other week is the best way to find and get rid of weeds at a young age. R2C005321
  • Herbicides –  Herbicides are an option but many individuals have issues with chemicals, as kids and pets could get into them. However, herbicides like Roundup are the only way to control weeds without physically pulling weeds. Sure, there are more holistic, less abrasive herbicides. The negative of these holistic herbicides is that they don’t kill weeds for an extended period of time, like herbicides.
  • Mulch your beds – Mulching your beds is a great way to reduce the amount of weeds popping up in your flower beds. However, only use bark based mulches. Any mulches with color are a wood based mulch. Once wood fiber mulches degrade, they suck up all the nitrogen from the soil, which is necessary for plants. r2c005471_edited_RRD
  • Don’t use fabric – Gardening fabric is not the best thing for your flower beds. After laying weed fabric, a plant’s roots will not grow down through the fabric as intended, where weeds do the complete opposite. So if you are considering fabrics, just don’t do it!

I know these tips don’t cure your garden and flowerbeds of weeds, but they can limit your summer time blues!

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Stay Safe During Harvest

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As the pace of harvest season starts to pick up, farmers may start to get in a rush. Whether it is because of rain, limited amount of combines or too many fields ready all at once, harvest is fast pace and long hours. However, rushing through harvest can be dangerous. There are multiple types of hazards that could cause injury including:

  • Being entangled in with the leveling or discharge augers.
  • Falling from the combine
  • Hitting low powerlines, bridges, and other hazards
  • Being run over
  • Coming into contact with the knife, reel or stripper rotor
  • Coming into contact with the straw chopper or spreader
  • Being trapped under the header/injured by the header falling from its transport trailer
  • Being injured by driving mechanisms
  • Dust
  • Fires
  • Noise

The list goes on and on. With the number of hazards for potential injuries, you still have to get those crops harvested. So here are some of our tips to keep you safe during harvest.

  • Set aside time to properly prepare the combine for harvest. – Checking your combine before harvest can save you time and money. Check and repair anything that could be a hazard to you and others, including loose latter platforms, handrails, steps, missing safety covers and access panels. Don’t have time or the proper equipment to check your combine? Have Shoppa’s service do it for you!
  • Always clean and do a safety check of the combine before using.  – Check and see if tires need air, handrails and steps are secured properly and that safety covers are on.
  • Use hand signals when communicating to the driver of the combine. –  Using hand signals can let the driver of the combine know what is happening on the ground. If you are on the ground, keep your distance from combine when moving because the driver may not see you.
  • Wear clothes that fits snugly – Wearing fitted clothing can reduce the risk of your clothes catching in moving parts.
  • Try not to move your combines at night from field to field.  – Though there may be less traffic, it may cause potential hazards. If you have to move your combine at night, make sure that all your lights, flashers, and rotary beacon is on and working properly. That way other vehicle can see you and drive carefully near you.
  • Be careful when applying brakes – A combine may tip forward due to the header’s weight if the brakes are applied to quickly.
  • Watch for low objects – low power lines, bridges, buildings and any other obstacles can run the risk of the combine hitting them. Also, examine the field for hazards such as washouts and other potential surprises.

Though accidents happen, we want to make sure that you, your family and your employees are safety this harvest season. That is why we highly suggest proper instruction on safety for individuals who will be around during harvest. Not only having your employees, but your family being safe during harvest could prevent future injuries. Though these are just a few tips, we highly suggest checking out these resources for more safety tips.

Have a happy and safe harvest season!

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5 Reasons to Shop at Shoppa’s

Ok we will be honest; you are probably tired of seeing these “why you should shop with us” blogs and marketing taglines; it’s cliché. But sometimes though, they can be super beneficial for someone who is new to the area, new to a life-style or is in the need for a specific product. That is why we are giving you 5 great reasons to “shop at Shoppa’s”.

  1. Family Owned – The Shoppa family opened their first store in Bay City in 1982. Thirty –five years later, Shoppa’s Farm Supply has grown to 8 stores locations while still being family owned and operated (our employees are family too!).
  2. We are local – Local employees in a local business supplying superior products to our local communities and customers. What more could you want?
  3. We are here for you – Shoppa’s is always there for you, our customer. Whether it is our friendly parts and service departments or our on-sight services, we want you get back to doing what you love, driving a John Deere. Parts counter
  4. We support you and the community – Since we are local and always there for you, why shouldn’t we support our communities? Shoppa’s sponsors all types of events from the Houston Livestock Stock Show and Rodeo, the Crosby Fair and Rodeo, the Danny Dietz Memorial event and many others. But, it’s not just the community we support; it’s the kids as well. Buying  4-H and FFA projects at local county fairs to our 10K for FFA, a fundraising event for all FFA chapters in our areas; Shoppa’s wants to support our kids because they are the future.Officers  file-1
  5. We sell only the highest quality equipment and products – For 180 years, John Deere has been committed to producing the highest quality products for the agriculture industry. Whether you are a small ag business, large ag or an individual who just loves to take of their lawn, we want you to have only the best, American made products with a lifestyle all its own.Track in front of Beaumont sign

We have given you only 5 reasons why you should shop at Shoppa’s. There are so many more. Wait, you already shop at Shoppa’s? Tell us why you shop with us with a Google or Facebook review.  We appreciate all our customers and would enjoy reading your stories on how you put the best equipment in the world, John Deere, to work on your property.

Preparing for the Storm

June is the start of the six month hurricane season, and though the Texas Gulf Coast has not seen a major storm in nine years (Hurricane Ike), you never know when the next storm will hit. Here at Shoppa’s Farm Supply, we want you to be safe this season. I have gathered some tips that will help prepare you for a future storm.

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When your area comes under a storm watch defined as storm conditions possible within the next 48 hours, or a storm warning defined as storm conditions are expected within 36 hours, making sure your family is safe and ready for the storm is your number one priority! Be prepared with:

  • Disaster Supply Kit – including:
    • Flashlights
    • Batteries
    • Cash
    • First aid kits
    • Two weeks’ worth of non-perishable food and water, in case you are flooded in or power lines are down.
    • Copies of critical information such as birth certificates, social security cards, bank information, proof of insurance, etc. all in case of an evacuation.
  • Alert System – Be sure your family has some type of method to receive alerts on the storm such as text, email or radio. Check your county’s website to see if they have an email or text alert system.
  • Communications plan – Having walkie-talkies or cell phones allow for easy communications between family members, and to let them know where you are at.
  • Generator – A portable generator, like the John Deere AC-G3010H Small Frame Generator, can allow you to supply electricity to keep smaller electronic devices powered through the storm.

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Once your family is safe, prepare your property and livestock. Keep in mind:

  • Trees – Dead limbs or trees can fall down and cause property damage if not removed. Prepare yourself by keeping trees trimmed and removing any dead trees from the property, no matter the size. Trimming could also reduce your chances of down power lines that were a result of falling branches.
  • Water damage – Clear out ditches and rain gutters. If clogged, water could rise and flood fields, cause water damage to barns and homes along with road damage.
  • Down fences – Check fences for down wire, rotten post, etc. Down fences increase the risk of livestock getting tangled in fence lines and getting out onto roads.
  • Don’t put your animals in the barn – keeping your animals in barns increases their risk of injury or death. Structure damage or destruction is always a concern during a storm. Putting them a pasture or fenced area allows them to move away from debris.
  • Animal Feed – Keep a two week supply of feed in an elevated, dry area to reduce any chance of getting water damage. This allows you to keep you animals fed and happy.
  • Water – Install a handle pump at select wells to supply your livestock with fresh water. Livestock can die of dehydration due to limited supply of fresh water.

When the storm passes, you are safe to go back or come out of your home. Though safe from the storm; debris, down power lines and flood waters are dangerous and should be avoided when checking property. Take pictures of any property damage and safely cover areas to prevent any further damage. If you have any questions or would like more information on preparing for the storm, checkout these resources:

42nd Annual Rice Field Day

On Tuesday June 28, the Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension held the 42nd Annual Rice Field Day, planned and coordinated by the Colorado County Rice Committee, at the David R. Wintermann Rice Research Station in Eagle Lake. Everyone was welcome to come out to the research station to get a look at some of the important rice research that they were working on.

Visitors gathered into covered trailers to be taken on a tour of the rice fields surrounding the station. Different scientists gave presentations about what they were working on. They included presentations from Dr. Rodante Tabien on varietal improvement and potential releases, Dr. Fugen Dou on soil amendments and nitrogen management, Dr. Shane Zhou on varieties and diseases, Dr. Mo Way on insect management and Dr. Muthu Bagavathiannan on new herbicides. Afterwards, everyone headed to the community center for a dinner of Austin’s BBQ and reports from Peter Bachman on rice economics and Dwight Roberts on the market outlook for Texas producers.

For more information about the Texas A&M AgrifLife Research Extension Center at Beaumont (which also operates at the Eagle Lake facility) click here and here.

Following are photos from the Eagle Lake Rice Field Day:

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7 Great Gifts for Father’s Day

Father’s Day is this Sunday! Still looking for something to get for the amazing dad in your life? We have some great gift ideas that will fit all budgets and interests, and all of them are available at Shoppa’s John Deere!

  1. Generator

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He’ll always be prepared with a portable generator like this John Deere PR-G6000M

2. Safe

 

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Dad can keep his guns and other valuables protected with this John Deere Security Safe!

3. Pressure washer

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Dad can keep everything from the garage door to the driveway clean with a pressure washer like this John Deere PR-3000GS.

 

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You know Dad loves his tools! Give him something to store them in like this John Deere 23 inch triangle box.

5. Frio coolers

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We have Frio products of all shapes, sizes, and designs. Get one for Dad and stock it with his favorite drink!

6. Gator

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Any hardworking dad will love a Gator to help him out like this John Deere Gator 825i!

7. Mowers

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Dads are proud of their lawns, so get him the mower he deserves! We’ve got mowers to fit every dad and lawn, from our S240 to our Z915B.

 

If you still can’t figure out what to get Dad for Father’s Day, stop by one of our six locations and look around, because we have something for every dad!

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How to Keep Your Home Mosquito-Free

Everything is bigger in Texas. Unfortunately, that includes the mosquitoes. The Gulf Coast region is especially prone to dense mosquito populations. The summer is peak mosquito season, which means it’s time to start taking extra measures to manage exposure as much as possible.

Take a look around your house. Is your property a haven for mosquitoes? If your home is hospitable to mosquitoes, it can easily become a breeding ground for them, creating more and more of the pesky insects.

To deter mosquito breeding, drain any standing water. Most species of mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water.

Stagnant water can gather in:

  • Discarded tires
  • Ditches or trenches
  • Industrial containers
  • Clogged storm drains
  • Natural low points on your property
  • Pottery
  • The saucers under flowerpots
  • Trash and litter, such as aluminum cans
  • Garbage can lids

If you have a swimming pool, cover it when not in use and keep it clean and chlorinated. Ornamental pools should be aerated to keep water moving, which deters mosquitoes from laying eggs. You can also stock the pond with fish that eat mosquitoes. Items that are supposed to contain water, such as birdbaths and pet water bowls, should be dumped out and have fresh water added at least twice a week.

Once you have the standing water taken care of, it’s time to bring out your John Deere mower! Mowing your yard regularly and keeping weeds away from your home’s foundation helps make your yard less hospitable to mosquitoes. Another thing you can do is replace your outdoors lights with yellow “bug” lights. They don’t repel insects, but mosquitoes and other pests aren’t as attracted to them, making them less likely to take over your yard. And don’t forget to keep an eye on your window and door screens to make sure there are no gaps or holes that need repairing.

If your area is extremely prone to mosquitoes, you will likely have to be even more proactive. You may want to consider one of the insecticides available for homeowners. A light spray around building foundations, shrubs and grasses will keep mosquitoes from resting in those areas.

There are several solutions for dealing with mosquitoes, but there are a couple of things that aren’t worth the money. Bug zappers are not recommended for mosquito control. Mosquitoes usually make up for less than 1% of bugs zapped, and many beneficial bugs get shocked instead. Citrosa plants are another item that experts say won’t help. While citronella oil has mosquito-repellant properties, the plants don’t.

Now that you have some ideas, get out there and battle with those mosquitoes! Mosquito control isn’t just beneficial to you and your family, it helps your whole community. Working together with your neighbors to get rid of as many mosquitoes as possible will help keep your community healthier and happier!

After a Flood

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In our first blog post, we talked about how to prepare for a flood and what to do during a flood. But what happens after the floodwaters recede? This guide contains some helpful tips about what steps to take if your house gets flooded.

If your house gets flooded, it may seem overwhelming. You may be wondering, “What should I do first? How long will repairs take? How can I afford this?” But you don’t have to go through it alone! Contact your insurance company as well as your local Emergency Management officer or city officials to find out if your county is classified as a “disaster area” and inquire about FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) assistance. If so, there may be additional resources for you to use.

Let’s get started! First off, here is a list of items you’ll need before entering your house:

  • Flashlights
  • A digital camera or smart phone with a camera
  • Rubber gloves
  • Waders or hip- or waist-high waterproof boots
  • A sump pump (available from hardware supply stores for $150 to $500)
  • A wet vac ($40 t0 $130)
  • Large fans
  • The number for your insurance company and local agent

Before you enter the home, you should look for any visible structure damage. This can include warping, loosened or cracked foundation elements, cracks and holes. You should contact your utility companies if you suspect damage to water, gas, electric and sewer lines.

Use your flashlight (don’t use candles, lanterns and open flames unless you are sure the gas has been turned off and the area has been aired out) to turn off all water and electrical sources in the home. Even if the power isn’t operational, it’s a good idea to go to your fuse box and turn off the main, as well as all of the individual fuse connections. If the power is reactivated, you don’t want to be at risk for mixing standing water and electricity.

Before you begin removing water or household items, take photos or videos of everything. You’ll need documentation photos for insurance claims, applications for disaster assistance and income tax deductions. Call your agent and follow their instructions on whether or not to wait for an adjustor to inspect the property before you begin making repairs.

The water in your home could be contaminated by sewage or household chemicals. These are wear your waders and rubber gloves come in to play. Look before you step! The flood could have brought in debris such as broken glass and nails that might cover the floor. And watch for mud – floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be slippery. Also watch for animals, especially snakes. Use a pole or a stick to poke and turn over items that may be hiding small animals.

Now that you’ve taken pictures of the house and cleared it of any unwanted animal guests, it’s time to start cleaning! Open doors and windows to allow fresh air to circulate (as long as doing so won’t allow in more water). Sump pumps and wet vacs are good tools to help get rid of water, and large fans to expedite the drying process and keep mud from developing.

Mold is a big problem after a flood. It can develop within 24 to 48 hours of a flood, so remove wet contents such as carpeting and bedding as soon as possible. Items that have been wet for less than 48 hours may be salvageable, but it may not be worth the effort. (Be sure to double check with your insurance company before removing the items to make sure you’re not affecting your coverage, and photograph the flood-soaked items.) You can control mold growth on surfaces by cleaning them with a non-ammonia detergent or pine oil cleaner and disinfecting them with a 10% bleach solution.

You’ll want to clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Floodwaters don’t just contain rainwater and river water – they can also contain sewage and chemicals. So foods, cosmetics and medicines that have been contaminated by the floodwaters are health hazards and should be disposed of. If the water level got so high that appliances were soaked, make sure your electricity is turned off until they can dry out. Appliances such as TV sets can shock you even if they’re unplugged. Don’t use any appliances or motors that have gotten wet until they’ve been taken apart, cleaned and dried.

Steps vary for different household items, so cleaning your glassware may be different than cleaning your wood furniture, and you may need to handle your walls and floors differently. Floodsafety.com has a comprehensive list of different things in your home and how you should treat them based on what they are and what material they are made from. Remember – before you begin dealing with floors and walls, take pictures of the damage, especially how high the water reached on the walls.

Don’t try to stay in your home if it isn’t habitable. Call your insurer to see what provisions the company will make for temporary housing while your home is being prepared, or contact local officials about emergency shelters in your area. When you’re not in the house, secure the house so that no further damage occurs by boarding up broken windows and securing tarps over damaged areas, such as the roof. Then take pictures of that for the insurance company to show that you are taking the proper precautions.

The most important thing to remember while cleaning and repairing is to keep yourself and your family safe. Don’t take any unnecessary risks, and call your insurance company or emergency management officials if you are unsure about something.

 

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