Seasonality of Prescribed Burning Workshop

Seasonality of Prescribed Burning Workshop

Have you been stuck in the routine of winter burns? Do you miss getting burns in because you run out of burn days? Are you interested in starting or improving prescribed burn efforts on your property? If so, join us for a day of learning, networking, and discussions.

Topics include: Expanding your burn windows, effects of burning during different times of the year, smoke management, working with other landowners to conduct prescribed burns, and cost-share opportunities.

When: March 8, 2024 / 9am to 3pm (lunch is provided)
Location: UF IFAS Okaloosa County Extension Office
3098 Airport Rd, Crestview, FL 32539

Click here to register:

Preserving Wild Game Meat

Preserving Wild Game Meat

We live in a world where we have instant access to tons of useful information.  If we want to learn something, we just ask our favorite search engine or social media platform.  However, some of the information floating around can be incorrect and sometimes dangerous.  When it comes to preserving my wild game meat, I look to the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  I do this because I want to preserve my wild game meat and keep my friends and family safe from food borne pathogens.  This resource has science-based recommendations for freezing, drying, canning, curing, and smoking meats.

This week, I am canning some venison.  Let’s walk through the steps for canning venison chunks which is my favorite.  The first step is choosing the right canner.  Meats must be canned using a pressure canner.  Boiling water canners are not safe for meats.  The Center has a great article on using a pressure canner if you have never used one before. 

I debone my venison and cut it into approximately 1-inch chunks.  I like to use the raw pack method but you can use the hot pack method.  I do not soak my venison but you can if the gaminess bothers you. 

Raw Pack Method – Add up to 2 teaspoons of salt if desired.  Pack raw chunks of meat into the jars leaving 1-inch headspace.  Do not add any liquid.

 Hot Pack Method – Pre-cook meats to rare by browning, stewing, or roasting in a small amount of fat.  Add up to 1 teaspoon of salt if desired.  Pack meat into the jars.  Fill jars with boiling broth, tomato juice, meat droppings, or water.  Leave 1-inch headspace.

Place these in the pressure canner and follow the instructions for your canner.  Processing time will depend on your altitude and jar size.  Follow processing times in the tables found in this article.

The Center has the same resources for other ways to preserve your wild game.  This is a research-based resource so you can be confident that your meats will be preserved safely for you and your family to enjoy. 

The Okaloosa County Extension Office will be hosting a Wild Game Food Processing Class on February 1, 2024 at 5:30pm.  For more information on this class, contact bearden@ufl.eduRegister via Eventbrite.

Preserved Wild Game Meat – Jennifer Bearden
Keeping an Eye Out for African Swine Fever 

Keeping an Eye Out for African Swine Fever 

Despite efforts by public and private land managers, feral hog populations continue to rise in many areas in Florida.  Feral hogs damage crop fields, lawns, wetlands, and forests.  They can negatively impact native species of plants and animals.  Their rooting leads to erosion and decreased water quality.  Feral swine can also harbor and infect domestic swine with diseases such as African Swine Fever, foot-and-mouth disease, pseudorabies, swine brucellosis, and others.  

USDA APHIS conducts feral swine monitoring for diseases to help safeguard our pork production here in the US.  More than 6,000 samples are taken annually to test for diseases of concern.  This monitoring effort not only keeps our domestic swine safe but also keeps humans safe from diseases that can infect us.  African Swine Fever (ASF) is the main disease of concern right now for the state of Florida, especially those counties bordering the Gulf of Mexico. 

ASF is a deadly disease of both feral and domestic hogs.  It is not transmitted to humans so it is not a health or food safety concern.  It is, however, highly contagious and would likely have a catastrophic effect on our domestic pork industry.  Although it has not been found in the US, this disease has recently been detected in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. 

This concern has led to a new monitoring program in Florida specifically for ASF in counties bordering the Gulf.  USDA APHIS will begin trapping wild hogs in these counties in order to monitor populations for ASF.  Landowners, both public and private, can benefit from this monitoring program.  Professional trappers will be employed to remove wild hogs for this monitoring effort.  For more information on this program, contact Buddy Welch, North Florida Assistant District Supervisor, USDA Wildlife Services, ASF Surveillance at

Beat the Heat – Avoid Heat Related Illnesses

Beat the Heat – Avoid Heat Related Illnesses

It’s no surprise that it gets hot in Florida during this time of year. We are the “Sunshine State” of course. The National Weather Service issues heat advisories when the heat index is forecast to be over 100°F for at least 2 days and nighttime temperatures are forecast to be above 75°F. The Excessive Heat Warning is when the heat index is forecast to be above 105°F for at least 2 days and nighttime temperatures are not expected to drop below 75°F. If you are like me, I have received many notices of heat advisories and excessive heat warnings over the last few weeks. Just because we are accustomed to this heat does not mean we should not heed these advisories and warnings. 

Heat related illnesses include sunburn, heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Heat rash and sunburn can happen even when temperatures are not extreme like now. Remember to apply sunscreen and wear lightweight clothing to protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays. For heat rash, do not allow moisture to stay close to your skin. Wear loose fitting clothing and try to minimize sweating. 

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are progressive stages of effects of excessive heat on your body. The first stage is muscle cramps or spasms. Once you notice this, you should remove yourself from the heat and physical activity. Drink water or a sports drink and wait for the cramping to subside before returning to physical activity. The next stage is heat exhaustion. The symptoms include heavy sweating, clammy skin, fast heart rate, nausea, dizziness, and fainting. If you experience these symptoms, move to a cool place, and loosen clothing. You can also put cool cloths on your body or take a cool shower or bath. Sip water. If you ignore these symptoms, you can progress to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke include high body temperature, dizziness, headache, nausea, confusion, loss of consciousness. If you find someone with heat stroke, call 9-1-1 at once and move the person to a cool place. 

graphic with sun, thermometer, and water bottle

Here are a few steps you can take to avoid heat related illness: 

  1. Wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing. 
  1. Drink plenty of fluids and stay hydrated. 
  1. Avoid excessive caffeine and alcohol intake. 
  1. Schedule outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day. 
  1. Plan for breaks in cooler places when enjoying the outdoors. 
  1. Don’t forget your sunscreen. 

For more information on heat related illnesses and extreme heat in Florida: 

NWS – Heat Safety 

CDC – Extreme Heat