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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.”

Christmas tree growers celebrate in February

Our son recently got an ear infection and had to take medicine twice a day for 10 days. My wife’s keen perception caught the malady very early and the ear infection was not bad, but the twice-daily battle that followed was quite serious.

I would guess the problem is fairly common in four-year-old boys — our son detests taking any type of medicine. So, twice a day for the last 10 days, we have engaged in an epic struggle of daily wrestling matches, impromptu games of hide and seek with a subject not interested in being found, medicine spills and sprays aplenty, and bribery of every kind. Of course, we don’t want to give him the medicine that he so despises, but it is obviously the proper course of action in the big picture to prevent a number of problems.

Even though it is best for him, our son does not necessarily see this (or agree with it).… Continue reading

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Winter beauty

As always, it was a busy morning at the Reese house. My wife had a meeting to get to, there were frozen water buckets in the barn, cold animals to care for, children to dress for school and then bundle up in hats and gloves, breakfast to make (and eat), a wood burner in desperate need of a refill, vehicles to warm up, and the list goes on. The unbelievably persistent cold makes every normal daily challenge take much longer, it seems. Yet, the magical frost on the trees and the colorful sunrise just begged to be photographed. The thermometer had dipped down to -11 this morning, but I took a few minutes and braved the cold with bare hands to take some photos this morning. I need to invest in some of those removable finger gloves so I can wear them when taking winter photos. Here are some photos from this morning and some other favorite winter photos.… Continue reading

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Celebrate winter!

Earlier this week on Groundhog Day, Buckeye Chuck and Punxsutauwney Phil disagreed about the timing of the spring of 2014. Punxsutauwney Phil forecasted 6 more long weeks of cold winter from Pennsylvania while Buckeye Chuck, in Marion, did not see his shadow and predicted an early spring for Ohio.

After being blasted by numerous bouts of frigid temperatures, abundant snow and just plain COLD Ash cave 3 weather this winter, it could be that the forecasts from the meteorologically inclined groundhogs garnered a bit more attention than usual, as many are really wishing for warmer weather.

As my woodpile dwindles, I too am temped to wish for an early spring, though I do enjoy winter. I was reminded of this last weekend when our family took a short trip to the beautiful Hocking Hills. It was the warmest day we’d had in some time, in the low 40s. We stopped to see Ash Cave, which is always beautiful in any season, but I have never seen it in full winter splendor.… Continue reading

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Snow rollers showing up in Central Ohio

The windy snowy conditions left a front yard full of these unusual “snow bales” or “snow rollers” at the home of Mike and Alison Ryan in Fairfield County. The largest are about a foot in diameter and almost two feet long. They seem to be around structures and not in open fields.

According to Wikipedia, snow rollers are a rare meteorological phenomenon. The following conditions are needed for snow rollers to form:

  • The ground must be covered by a layer of ice to which snow will not stick.
  • The layer of ice must be covered by wet, loose snow with a temperature near the melting point of ice.
  • The wind must be strong enough to move the snow rollers, but not strong enough to blow them apart.
  • Alternatively, gravity can move the snow rollers as when a snowball, such as those that will fall from a tree or cliff, lands on steep hill and begins to roll down the hill.
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Interesting comparisons farming in the north verses south

My brother-in-law attended Mississippi State University and currently lives down near the Gulf. As a result, my family has made several trips down South to visit.

When spending time south of the Mason-Dixon, there are some notable cultural differences.

I do not eat much fast food unless I am travelling. On trips to the South, I have found that fast food is no longer fast and sweet tea is REALLY sweet. I have to drink half sweet and half regular. A pop is a Coke in the South but a Coke is a pop up here.

My northern fish out of southern water tales, though, are quite limited in comparison to those of the Purdy family. They farm in Ohio and expanded their operation down on the Mississippi Delta in Arkansas a few years ago. The Delta, with its sticky weather and sizable insect, snake and rodent populations, is home to many wide-open acres of farmland and very few people.… Continue reading

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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 smallContinue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.
… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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