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3 accessible precision farming solutions for small operations

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Precision farming technologies have been in the spotlight for a few years, but their high cost often puts them out of reach for small- and medium-sized producers. However, there’s a growing number of affordable options that let you optimize your operation without breaking the bank.

1. Yield monitors
These systems are attached to combine harvesters or tractors and provide information about yield, grain moisture and soil properties in real time. This allows farmers to monitor the conditions of each field, which enables better resource allocation.

Nowadays, yield monitors can be installed on equipment of almost any age, making them very accessible.

2. Smartphone apps
Smartphone apps are a great starting point for implementing precision agriculture on small farms.

The eFarmer application allows farmers to use their devices as displays and navigate their fields more precisely. This helps them to work at night and in low-visibility conditions.

Taranis is a similar, web-based app that also offers solutions for monitoring integrated pest management processes.

3. Variable-rate fertilizer spreaders
These systems help farmers reduce the amount of fertilizer they disperse by only spreading as much as required. They pay for themselves thanks to good fuel economy and low resource usage.

Models are being developed for various-sized operations.

Precision farming isn’t just a fad, and it’s getting easier for the everyday farmer to benefit from it.

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For the love of singing

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You don’t need to have the voice of Pavarotti or Celine Dion to join a choir. All you need is a love of singing, because this is an art that can be learned. The voice is an instrument, just like the guitar or piano; all you have to do is learn how to use it. With practice, you can develop your musical ear and vocal abilities.

Some choirs are open to all who share a love of singing, regardless of ability. So, even if you are a beginner, it is possible to find a choir ready to welcome you. Singing in a group is also a great way to improve rapidly, as it allows you to draw on the experience of others. In addition, choral singing, unlike private singing lessons, develops a sense of harmony—both musically and socially.

There are choirs for all musical tastes. Some sing popular music; others sing from a liturgical repertoire, or classical or folk music. And if you loved Whoopi Goldberg in the comedy movie Sister Act, you’ll love singing in a gospel choir!

Singing in a choir is also an opportunity to share your passion for music, to work as part of a team, to socialize, and to surpass yourself. In a way, music is like a sport; it requires you to work your breathing and posture, it is excellent exercise for the back, and it is an activity that uses many different muscles in the chest and throat.

Do you like humming in the shower? Do you enjoy singing at the top of your voice during your solitary car rides? What are you waiting for? Join a choir!

You want to share your passion for music? Join a choir!

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Science of VDOT: Highway Safety

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Learn how VDOT works to improve safety on Virginia’s roads.

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Snowboarding 101: tips for beginners

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Are you thinking about taking up snowboarding this winter? If so, here are some tips to make learning this sport a little easier.

• Take lessons. Snowboarding isn’t an easy sport to learn on your own. A professional will teach you the basics of skating (propelling yourself using one foot), turning, stopping and controlling your descent.

• Avoid crowds. Choose runs that aren’t too busy, even if they’re a little more challenging than the overcrowded bunny hill. Having more room to maneuver will allow you to learn at your own pace, without worrying about getting in anyone’s way.

• Wear protection. Frequent falls are to be expected the first few times you hit the slopes on a snowboard. Protective gear like helmets and wrist guards will help you avoid serious injury.

• Learn to fall. Besides wearing protection, knowing how to fall is the key to not getting hurt. If you feel yourself pitching forward, keep your arms close to your body and try to land on your elbows and forearms. If you’re falling backwards, crouch and put your hands behind your neck to protect it.

You probably won’t master snowboarding on your first day out, but that’s okay. Most people need a few sessions or even a whole season to be truly comfortable on a snowboard. Take your time, have fun and keep trying.

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Cost of retirement: More expensive than you might think

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The cost of retirement can vary dramatically depending on where you live and what choices you make before you retire.

Ideally, you want to have enough social security and investments to maintain your current lifestyle.

While investment advisors routinely say $1 million in investments will ensure a happy retirement, this is not necessarily true. In high-tax states with high cost of living, a big retirement pot is probably essential. But, in lower tax states with lower cost of living, retirees might need about a fourth of that amount.

The key question is how you prepare before retirement.

– Run the numbers. Check with Social Security for an estimate of retirement income. But, remember your medicare and taxes will be deducted from social security, so that number will be lower.

For other income, you will be paying cash for taxes. Look at all your expenses. Medicare plus supplements and prescriptions could run more than you think. For example, some prescriptions could cost $100-$300 per month, even with a prescription plan.

– Get out of debt. The best strategy is to be out of debt before retirement. Aim for zero credit balances.

– Pay off the mortgage. In some cases holding a mortgage might be financially wise, depending on how much your investments are making as opposed to the interest rate on your mortgage. But good general advice is to pay off the mortgage before retirement.

– Transportation. Plan to have a late model car that is paid off before retirement. A car payment soaks up retirement funds.

– Emergency fund. Build one with at least 3 to 6 months of expenses. Emergencies won’t stop just because you are retired and you won’t have money coming in. You must avoid credit card debt.

– Long-term care insurance. Plan early to buy long-term care insurance when prices will be lower.

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4 tips for a hassle-free holiday

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Are you planning a trip? If so, here are four things you can do to ensure your holiday goes smoothly.

1. Book everything early
Reserve your hotel, motel or campsite as early as possible. The same goes for all plane tickets and car rentals. By booking things in advance, you guarantee that you have the best possible experience at the lowest possible price.

2. Double-check your documents
Make sure your driver’s license, passport and travel insurance are all up to date and won’t expire any time soon.

3. Think about your health
Visit your doctor to make sure you’re healthy and in good enough shape to travel. Depending on your destination, you may need to get one or more vaccines to protect yourself against foreign pathogens. Also, it’s imperative that you have enough medication for the duration of your trip.

4. Make sure your home is safe
While you’re away, mitigate the risk of your home getting burgled. Put your lights on a timer and have someone pick up your mail and perform basic upkeep so the place looks inhabited. Alternatively, you can get someone you trust to housesit. You should also avoid sharing information about your trip on social media until you’re back at home.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your trip to the fullest.

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Science of VDOT: Highway Safety

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Did you know that 93 percent of all crashes are a result of human behavior? The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shared the extraordinary tests they do with VDOT.

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Upcoming Events

Jan
23
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 23 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
24
Fri
9:00 am Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Veterans Services Meeting at Abl... @ Able Forces
Jan 24 @ 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Veterans Services Meeting at Able Forces @ Able Forces
Able Forces Foundation will once again be hosting a visit by Andre Miller, Resource Specialist, Virginia Veteran and Family Support, Department of Veteran Services, Commonwealth of Virginia, and Danielle Cullers, Homeless Veteran Advocate-Volunteers of America[...]
Jan
25
Sat
11:00 am Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Goldilocks and the Three Bears @ Samuels Public Library
A Story Ballet. Join us in a celebration of classic literature through dance! The whole family will enjoy this ballet performance, presented by the Northern Virginia Academy of Ballet.
1:00 pm Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Moving Mindfully: Finding and ke... @ Ruby Yoga
Jan 25 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Moving Mindfully: Finding and keeping your footing @ Ruby Yoga
Join Ruby Yoga and Deborah Romero of Optimal Posture LLC for a series of workshops on moving more mindfully through life using the principles of yoga and the Alexander Technique. Slated for Saturday, Jan. 25,[...]
2:00 pm Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 25 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Aspiring Artists @ Samuels Public Library
Are you aged 7 or older? Do you enjoy art? If so, please join us for our children’s art class. Using the classic scissor cutting art of Scherenschnitte, we will make silhouettes in a nature[...]
Jan
28
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 28 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, January 7 – Based on books about Balto, we will learn more about service dogs this week. For ages[...]
Jan
29
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 29 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
30
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Jan 30 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 18 and Thursday, December 19: Something we all enjoy this time of year is giving and receiving gifts. Our stories, songs, and craft will[...]
Jan
31
Fri
7:00 pm Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Love Revival – FREE Monthly Comm... @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Jan 31 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Love Revival - FREE Monthly Community Dinner @ Love Revival Ministry Center
Free Community Dinner for everyone! Come enjoy a hot meal on the last Friday of every month at Love Revival Ministry Center.