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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.”

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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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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Plenty to look forward to at the Ohio State Fair

At the office, we all look forward to the fun of the Ohio State Fair, but we also work pretty hard at the event to promote the youth and agriculture that are showcased there. Our staff puts in a huge number of man-hours at the event and, over the years, we all have found a few things we look forward to enjoying at the Fair every year.

In my estimation, Dale Minyo almost single handedly keeps the iced tea vendors in business at the Fair. He says he only averages three to four per day. He points out the importance of keeping the same cup for the duration of the event to maximize the savings. Dale also really enjoys seeing what is new at the Ag. And Hort. Building each year.

Bart Johnson remains enamored with Smoky Bear in the conservation area. Every time he sees that familiar face he recalls how amazed he was as a child that Smokey knew his name.… Continue reading

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Beware of heat for the rest of July

It is certainly hot and humid week for baling hay, but many people are doing just that around Ohio.

We bale around 20 acres of mostly small square bales and have been hitting it hard so far this week with a late second cutting following the very extended period of wet weather that bogged down any attempts to cut hay earlier. Yesterday I was out on the wagon starting to stack the second load when I got a bit dizzy. At first I thought I would push on and then better judgment set in. I went and sat in the shade and drank water for about 10 minutes and I was fine after that. Then I drove the tractor for the next load.

Be careful in this intolerably humid heat that looks like it will be sticking (literally) around for a while. Jim Noel, with the National Weather Service, says that the remainder of July will be on the warm side.… Continue reading

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Farm bill fiasco moves forward to conference

In a party-line vote of 216-208, the House of Representatives passed a stripped-down version of the 2013 Farm Bill, containing only farm programs. The bill also repeals permanent law. The reviews are mixed.

Some ag groups support it. Some act like they support it, kind of. Some parts of agriculture hate some parts of it, think some parts are OK and hate some of it. Democrats hate it. Republicans like it in a luke warm sort of way. But at least progress is progress, isn’t it? Or is this progress? Here is what some had to say about the half farm bill from the House.

“The American Soybean Association (ASA) is relieved that we will finally see a conference on the farm bill. However today’s approval by the House on a partial bill will mean nothing if we can’t get a bill back from conference that both chambers will pass. In that sense, there is still much work to be done,” said Danny Murphy, ASA president.
… Continue reading

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Century Farm history less about “me” and more about “we”

I love to visit Century Farms each year for many reasons. There is usually fascinating history, there are always great family stories and there are generally some impressive historic structures to gawk at when you think about how they were built so long ago. Another reason Century Farm visits are so valuable is the perspective they provide.

It is so easy to get caught up in the busy schedule of today’s society. It seems that we have so much to do these days compared to those tales of yesteryear that are always so prevalent in my visits to Century Farms. Why is that? After years of learning about Ohio’s agricultural history, I continue to arrive at the same answer to that question: food.

Just a couple of generations back, whether they lived in the city or the country, people spent significantly more time and resources on food than we do today.… Continue reading

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What jobs can farm kids do?

Sometimes, after long hours of work on our various farm endeavors, I think to myself, “When can the kids start doing some of this?”

With hay to bale, Christmas trees to trim and mow around, animals to feed, show sheep to wash, and eggs to gather, there is no shortage of jobs for the Reese family in the summer months. There are seven young Reese grandkids to date (including our two) and as they grow into able-bodied farm kids, there will be inevitable questions about what jobs are safe and age appropriate for them to take over.

Peggy Hall and Catharine Daniels, with Ohio State University Extension’s Agricultural & Resource Law Program, wrote a recent article about the importance of this issue on Ohio’s farms. Here is an excerpt.

It’s hay and straw season in Ohio, which creates both a high need to employ youth on the farm and the challenging task of understanding farm youth labor laws.… Continue reading

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Ash holes, butt pans and other obstacles of inter-generational communication

Our three-year-old son is at a stage where he talks prolifically, but still a little “Dutchy” according to his great-grandma. This leads to inevitable communication issues with adults.

This communication gap was the source of great concern for my wife and I recently as he tried to describe for us the hole in the carpet made by a spark from the fireplace this winter. In his mind, this “hole” made from the “ash” was noteworthy enough to enunciate repeatedly in a very unfortunate word arrangement that, when combined with his three-year old dialect, sounded quite troubling. Not knowing what he was trying to describe, my wife and I exchanged a few worried glances after our son repeated the very crass-sounding phrase several times before I stopped him. I asked, “Do you mean the hole made by the ash in the carpet?”

“That’s ‘zactly what I’m talkin’ bout daddy, an ash hole.”

The communication misinterpretation can go both ways though.… Continue reading

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