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Matt Reese

I grew up on a small farm in northwest Ohio and spent most of my youth writing, doodling, taking pictures, reading and exploring the surrounding farmland. With a family full of teachers, I also grew up around a culture supportive of education. I was active in athletics in high school before graduating from Ohio State University where I studied agricultural communications. This led to my career in agricultural journalism.

I continue to work on the family Christmas tree farm in Hancock County. I live on a small farm in Fairfield County with sheep, rabbits and chickens. I have a daughter, Campbell Miriam, who was born in the fall of 2007 and a son, Parker Matthew, born in August of 2009. We are active in our local church and with numerous other organizations.

I have worked for Ohio’s Country Journal since 1999. I also write a column for numerous newspapers around Ohio, Fresh Country Air and do freelance writing and photography work. I have written and self-published six books to date. To find my books, visit lulu.com and search for “Matt Reese.”

The crooked icicle

The crooked icicle is shaped in a storm,

With the cold winter wind forging its form.

It is outlandish, unique, glaring, and bold.

It takes center stage hanging there in the cold.

It is more prone to breaking and the first one to fall,

Though it clearly stands out from them all.

By its vertical brethren it is a bit fickle,

But such is the life of the crooked icicle.

crooked icicle small

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Top videos of 2013

Each year, online videos are becoming a more important way to deliver pertinent information (and some entertainment) to our online audience. Thanks for watching and we will keep those videos coming in 2014.

Here are the top videos of the year.

1.  “I still think my jacket’s sexy”

If you have not yet watched this do yourself a favor and watch it. In one of the more unusual and bizarre projects ever undertaken by Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net staff, “I still think my jacket’s sexy” is set to a popular country tune that is among the most widely viewed videos we’ve ever posted. This is well worth watching just to see Dale Minyo squeeze into an FFA jacket from yesteryear.

2. A Cab Cam with Josh Houck in Madison County

One of the first farmers in the field to plant the 2013 corn crop was Pitstick Farms.

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Counting down the top posts of 2013

As our website has grown in popularity in the last few years, it is really entertaining for us at the office to see what stories get the most “clicks” or visits from interested readers. It is almost like a video game we play to outdo each other with our various posts throughout the year. Who can get the most clicks?

We think it is interesting to review the top posts for the year to see who’s posts won, but also to gain insight into how to better serve those on the web and in print and radio with the content and information they are most interested in learning about.

In addition to the top posts we will be highlighting, other noteworthy drivers of web traffic in 2013 included the Ohio State Fair livestock show results, the Ohio FFA Convention and videos. Over the next few days we will be wrapping up the year by counting down the top posts of 2013.

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The Christmas manger

Have a very Merry Christmas from the Reese family. Here is a Christmas tale for you…

It was time to prepare for the Christmas nativity play at church and the youth group was in charge of the show. The group really had risen to the occasion. A couple of talented students put together an elaborate set, while others carefully practiced their choreography and lines to meticulous perfection. The costumes were bejeweled and beautiful, and were the subject of no small amount of discussion among the ladies of the church with an eye for fashion. Many of the youth group members spent hours in preparation, each according to their own talents, and, by nearly every measure, it was all coming together splendidly.

Vern Stephens was in charge of the manger, which seemed like a pretty simple task considering the grandeur of the rest of the production. But, in the eyes of most, Vern was a pretty simple guy.

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Bearded broadcasters and hairy writers vie for best facial hair


We have wrapped up no-shave November and here are the hairy (and not-so-hairy results) from this unprecedented display of manliness and testosterone at our office. This first photo was taken in early November.


Notice in the before picture that Joel Penhorwood is not pictured. He is in the second photo on the far right, but in his case the after is not all that much different than the before.

beards after2

Our wives (Joel is not married) have been generally supportive of the facial hair frenzy at the office, though the reviews are mixed. I plan on keeping mine at least through Christmas.

I have found that, when the cold winter wind hits my beard, it swirls around a bit before it hits my face and feels a bit warmer. With this in mind, it may be wise to leave it until spring.

We have been debating at the office who has the best beard.

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Kristin Reese featured on “The Balancing Act” this week

I have written multiple times about the adventures that result when my wife, Kristin, leaves me home with the children for multiple days. Well, now you have a chance to see the other side of the story by getting to watch my talented (and beautiful) wife in action.

Her most recent multi-day absence from home was in October when she flew to Florida for a television shoot for a morning program on the Lifetime Channel. She did a holiday cooking demo for a segment on the television show “The Balancing Act” that airs on weekdays at 7 a.m.

While I was home caring for the livestock and the children, she dealt with the rigors of meetings on the beach, makeup artists, wardrobe consultants, and television sets. She is a real pro, though, doing a great job in just one take!

This was all through the CommonGround program, a grass-roots movement to foster conversations among women on farms and in cities about where our food comes from.

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The men of “Ohio’s Country Journal” and Ohio Ag Net decided to celebrate “MoVember” by not shaving in November as part of the global effort to raise funds and awareness of men’s health issues. Ty Higgins, Dale Minyo, Bart Johnson, Joel Penhorwood (not pictured) and I have been fuzzy faced since Nov. 1. Kirby Hidy already had a beard. This photo was taken with some of us about mid-month. Stay tuned for a final photo to see how hairy we get by December.

We may look funny with facial hair, but the issue behind MoVember is very serious. Dan Boysel, from Delaware County, shares why:

In November each year, my wife Kerry lets me grow a terrible looking beard, not because of deer season, but because of our story.

“Dan, the tests indicate a cancerous growth.”

This is what an average guy from Delaware County never expected to hear.

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Ag is Cool (and kind of cold) on a memorable farm visit

It was a brisk morning as we readied the farm. We swept the barn, made sure all the water buckets were full and cleaned up a couple of cob webs in the corners in preparation for a visit from a Pickerington fourth grade class to come visit the farm in November.

While not exactly from a big city, the group of students and their teacher had little to no experience with any type of agriculture, other than occasionally driving by the few scattered corn and soybean fields tucked in between houses and strip malls in the area. The class was selected as one of the statewide winners in the Ag is Cool program at the Ohio State Fair. The program has several components, all of which seek to infuse a bit of agricultural knowledge into Ohio’s students.

The Agriculture is Cool program was inspired by the initiative of Gov. John Kasich in 2011.

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The wood pile controversy is heating up

When we first moved to our current home out in the country, the winters were cold and the propane bills were very high, even though we kept the thermostat set in the low 60s. We decided we had to do something about the heating situation, and decided to get an outdoor wood burner.

Since then, the wood burner (and the necessary wood pile) has been the source of some marital disagreement. Kristin does not like the wood burner, the firewood or the act of filling the wood burner with wood, but she loves the warm house. She has even threatened to put out a jar to collect a dollar for anytime I mention the words “firewood,” “pile” or “wood burner.”

Meanwhile, I take great delight in trying to outdo my previous wood pile performance every year. This year, going into winter, I have between 4 and 5 cords stacked up in front of the garage, which should last at least half the winter.

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Hocking County Fair helped a family in need

Seven-year-old Westley McKinley, from Hocking County, was diagnosed with a relatively rare disorder called Batten Disease in 2010. Since then, his family has been dealing with the horrors of the disease that is fatal and debilitating — trying to help Westley get the most out of life while he still can. There is no known cure for Batten’s Disease.

The stress of the situation, mounting medical bills and long and regular trips to Cincinnati for treatment have created challenges that are hard for many to imagine, but the family is working to make the best of the terrible situation. Westley’s mother, Tracee, was quoted in the “Logan Daily News:”

“When Westley was still talking, he said he wanted to be a teacher. Westley will never become an actual teacher, but he doesn’t have to because he teaches everyone on a daily basis,” she said. “He teaches how to love unconditionally, be accepting of others and to always be thankful for what you have in life.”

At the Hocking County Fair in September, the community (including the fair board, exhibitors, bidders and others) pulled together to help the McKinley family by auctioning a hog to raise funds to help with the family’s medical expenses.

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A farmer tribute inspires a photographer

I always appreciate good farm photography and I came across some great photos on the Internet the other day, with an even greater story behind them.

Matt Rubel, the photographer, was a “Navy kid” who traveled around the world with his family while he was growing up, but his mother’s side of the family is from a farming community in Illinois. He always had an interest in visiting the farm. Rubel grew up to (obviously) become a talented photographer who recently traveled back to his family’s farm for a visit. While there he was talking to his uncle, who was planning on moving some tractors. Rubel saw a great opportunity to get some tractor pictures, but what he found really caught his photographic eye and inspired him. Here is an excerpt from Rubel’s comments:

“A local farmer, Jake Moore, was arranging a tribute for his best friend, Kyle Hendrix (31), who had recently passed away from cancer.

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Have you entered your favorite fair photos?

The Reeses have spent nearly every moment this week at, or traveling to and from, the Fairfield County Fair. The kids are getting to the age where they can really start to enjoy the county fair and they had a great time. In between preparing animals, the sheep show, the open beef breeding show and countless corn dogs, they even made a new friend who demonstrated how to eat a worm (a real one) on a potato chip. Kristin and I took many photos. The weather has been spectacular! Here are a few of our favorites from the Fairfield County Fair.

With the end of the Fairfield County Fair, the 2013 Ohio fair season will be wrapped up. It has been another great year of fairs around Ohio and we want to see your favorite photos from your favorite fairs. Our 2013 County Fair Photo Contest is open for submissions until Oct.

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Chipotle ad offers an idyllic world of pure imagination

 Come with me and you’ll be,

In a world of pure imagination.

Take a look and you’ll see, Into your imagination.

We’ll begin with a spin,

Trav’ling in the world of my creation.

What we’ll see will defy, Explanation.

If you want to view paradise, Simply look around and view it.

Anything you want to, do it,

Want to change the world, there’s nothing to it.


A haunting version of the song from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (I like the Wonka version better) guides the audience through a dark world of industrial food production that is brightened by the actions of an animated scarecrow. This most recent advertising effort from Chipotle Mexican Grill has foodies and aggies abuzz around the country with its anti-big-ag message.

More than 6 million people have watched the beautifully done video on YouTube that delivers a decidedly skewed message designed to promote burrito sales.

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Uh-oh: Road closed for Farm Science Review

I was quite distraught last week when I noticed that State Route 29 was closed at I-70. This is my favorite “sneaky back way” to dodge some of the heavy traffic when getting to and from the Farm Science Review. The bigger problem is that this way is not really all that sneaky and many other people use it as well. Not this year folks.

The resulting problem is the decrease of three primary exits from I-70 down to two. There will probably be increased bottlenecking of traffic on 42.

Here is the official report on the exit closure from http://www.pavingtheway.org/i-70/.

Beginning Sept. 9, SR 29 will close at I-70 for 30 days to allow crews to complete work on the new roundabout at the west interchange. Two ramps will also close: I-70 west to SR 29 and SR 29 to I-70 west. Detours will be posted.

SR 29 west detour: US 40 west to US 42 north to SR 29.

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Those doggone farm dogs

There are a few things that immediately pop into your mind when you think of a farm, and not too far down that list is a trusty farm dog. While dogs are an indispensible part of many farms, they also can add some great stories. Most farmers have a few good dog stories.

My in-laws have a Great Pyrenees named Joey to guard the sheep from the increasing coyote population in the area. For the most part, Joey does a great job with the sheep, but occasionally gets a bit over zealous in his efforts.

Just the other morning, my wife Kristin was out wandering the pastures in search of a missing lamb. It had wandered away from its mother just long enough for the massive, and well-meaning, white dog to pick up the little guy up and gingerly carry him off to the far corner of the pasture for safe keeping until he could locate the mother and reunite them.

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Farmers feeding a hungry world and caring for it too

Back in college, I was (and I continue to be) pretty fiscally conservative. But, at the same time, I have also always loved ample quantities of good food. These reasons combined make me a big fan of a good buffet. Of course, at a buffet, my personal goal is always to make “profit” — to consume an amount of food with a value that is in excess of the monetary cost of the buffet in question.

For example, I was part of a group of three or four guys back in college that would venture down High Street at OSU and stop at a $6 pizza buffet. At that same place, I could buy a pizza for $9.99. So, if I could eat an entire thin crust pizza at the $6 buffet, I would easily make ample profit. A buffet outing that focused on the higher dollar “everything” pizza would be even more profitable if sufficient quantities were consumed.

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Food Dialogues combine the art and science of food

Have you enjoyed a good sunset lately?

This summer we had a stretch of beautiful summer cool days that made it a pleasure to be outside doing anything (even baling hay). Those beautiful days led to beautiful, crisp nights, many of which were buffered in by breathtaking sunsets.

After a long Saturday afternoon of stacking small square hay bales on the wagon, I wiped the sweat off my forehead and looked up to notice a beautiful sky as the sun dipped down toward the western horizon between the trees and rolling hills in the distance. I was hot and I had been working hard, but the cool evening breeze and the stunning pinkish-orangey-red colors of the sky after a day of working with family offered very a pleasant and hard to quantify kind of feeling.

We live in a science-obsessed society, but some things (like sunsets) are not about science. I am sure that some scientist somewhere could calculate an equation or track brain waves or something that could scientifically describe why people find pretty sunsets appealing.

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Food Dialogues in Columbus

As more questions and concerns about biotechnology and confusion about the oft-used term ”sustainability” emerge for grocery shoppers and diners around the country, people are looking for answers.

Some of those answers are being provided today, The Food Dialogues: Ohio is being live streamed at http://ofb.ag/fooddialogues from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT.

The Food Dialogues event series has been in multiple cities around the country and is coordinated by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance at the national level. The Ohio Soybean Council and the Ohio farm Bureau Federation have worked on and sponsored the details at the state level. Today’s Food Dialogues: Ohio is featuring two distinct discussions one focused on biotechnology and another on sustainability. The panels will be moderated by WTVN talk radio host Joel Riley.

The first panel discussion, “Biotechnology (GMOs) And Your Food,” will explore the role of science when it comes to issues tied to food.

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Teamwork required for Ohio State Fair

We have gotten tremendous response to the quick results we post from the Ohio State Fair. It is amazing how many people check out the photos, videos and results we post in real time as the junior market and dairy shows take place.

I was asked by several people at the Ohio State Fair about what happens behind the scenes to get the results, photos and videos posted so quickly. Well, that is a good question, and here is a short answer. Teamwork.

There are thousands of names, spellings, placings, home counties, and champions in all of the different shows we cover with all of the different species and breeds. It takes extensive work from all of our staff. We each have our own roles and we work together as a team to get the job done.

And during the course of the Fair, our support team for the rapid result posting extends well beyond our staff.

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Porktastic day at the Ohio State Fair Rib-Off

I waited an entire year for it. I got up and went for a three-mile run and ate a very small breakfast in preparation. I got in the car and drove to the Ohio State Fair and it was finally time for me to once again serve as a judge at the Ohio State Fair Pork Rib-off.

Oh the magical sauces, the tender, smoky meat, the delicious smells and eye appeal of the ribs — it is nothing short of dazzling and well worth a year of waiting since I judged in 2012. I was joined in my enviable role by David Black

with the Ohio Soybean Council, Dave White of the Ohio Livestock Coalition, Joel Riley from 610 radio, and Virgil Strickler with the Ohio State Fair.The event that followed was nothing short of amazing. Wave after wave of delicious pork cooked up from some of Ohio’s top rib makers was set before us to enjoy.

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