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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.”


Say yes to bacon!

While growing up in the Reese house, when any of my brothers would be asked, “How much bacon would you like?” they would simply respond, “Yes.”

The idea was that they would be keenly interested in any available amount of bacon. One of the favorite bacon dishes of our family was (and continues to be) World Famous Dad McMuffins. I am not sure of the the accuracy of the “world” part, but they were certainly famous in some circles, and the highlight of the egg and cheese sandwich on an English muffin was the bacon. As they were being prepared, there were inevitable bacon thefts and my hungry brothers and I waited for the delicious treat. MMMmmmm…bacon. I still love it.

In fact, I even tried the somewhat unusual bacon maple doughnut from Patterson Fruit Farm in Geauga County last week. (Thanks, by the way, to all in Geauga County who hosted us). 

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Proper perspective important for rain, food perceptions

By Matt Reese

With the dry weather this season, some people see the rain gauge half empty, while others see it half full. Unfortunately, I hardly ever get to see it at all.

The trouble began in the spring of 2011 when I took my young children with me out into the yard to pick the best spot for the rain gauge. From that point on, I would rarely get to check the rainfall amounts that had accumulated in the gauge with any accuracy. The kids were so excited when it rained that they would almost always run out and “check” the rain gauge before I could. Sometimes this check would include filling up the rain gauge with the hose or the toy watering can and sometimes they would make note of the water level and tell me later. My daughter would tell me the range was somewhere between about .2 and 4.5 inches — not especially helpful.

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Farm Science Review by the numbers

The 2012 Farm Science Review celebrated 50 years, while the crops faced the worst drought conditions in that same 50 years. There were two OSU ag deans present at the event as Bobby Moser continued the process of handing the reigns over to Bruce McPheron. One university president (Gordon Gee), two ag secretaries (Tom Vilsak from the USDA and Dave Daniels from ODA), one governor (John Kasich) and one two-time Heisman Trophy winner (Archie Griffin) were also all at the 2012 FSR. Three high achievers were inducted into the FSR Hall of Fame and temperatures ranged from the 40s to the 70s. It also should be noted that there were several very tired ag media representatives when it was all said and done. All of these numbers added up to yet another fantastic Farm Science Review. Here are some more pertinent 2012 FSR numbers.

 

Yields

Corn yields were averaging 100 to 105 bushels going into the final afternoon of harvest demonstrations.

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Life and rewards on a family farm

By Matt Reese

When I was a young boy, my parents decided to start planting Christmas trees on their farm, a labor-intensive endeavor that takes eight to 10 years to derive any income. The years that followed were filled with long hours of spring planting, summer mowing and shearing and winter harvests.

Whether we are planting 3,000 seedlings by hand under the warming spring sun or battling long days of soggy socks while harvesting trees for customers on a 35-degree rainy day during the sales season, my family depends upon each other to do what is needed to make it through. Sometimes it is easy, and sometimes it is not so easy, but we almost always find a way to have fun working together on the farm. These kinds of family relationships do not develop over night, but over years of working together with the common goal of producing something useful from the land.

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OCJ covers tell their own stories (the second 10 years)

By Matt Reese

To commemorate 20 years of Ohio’s Country Journal this month, I thought it would be interesting to let the covers tell their unique stories through the years. I pulled out the binders holding a copy of each issue and stacked them up on the desk at the office and started with 1992 and worked my way through 2012.

It took awhile, as I found myself leafing through the pages to see the familiar faces and catch up on ag news of the days gone by. I was reminded how rich Ohio agriculture is in terms of the soils, the productivity and, maybe most importantly, the people. Ohio is home to so many great leaders in agriculture, promising young people and great farmers. Ohio has also been a battleground for some of the most pressing issues in food production as we have Corn Belt values colliding with East Coast mentalities all in the same great state.

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OCJ covers tell their own stories (the first 10 years)

By Matt Reese

To commemorate 20 years of Ohio’s Country Journal this month, I thought it would be interesting to let the covers tell their unique stories through the years. I pulled out the binders holding a copy of each issue and stacked them up on the desk at the office and started with 1992 and worked my way through 2012.

It took awhile, as I found myself leafing through the pages to see the familiar faces and catch up on ag news of the days gone by. I was reminded how rich Ohio agriculture is in terms of the soils, the productivity but, maybe most importantly, the people. Ohio is home to so many great leaders in agriculture, so many smiling young people and many great farmers. Ohio has also been a battleground for some of the most pressing issues in food production as we have Corn Belt values colliding with East Coast mentalities all in the same great state.

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Deadlines are made to be broken

By Matt Reese

I do not know where they learned this, but my children are experts at stall-tactics to delay bedtime. The kids’ bedtime is usually around 8:00. Sometimes we make this deadline and sometimes we do not, but my precocious stallers of slumber have the ability to push back bedtime 10 or 15 minutes, maybe even a half an hour, through various schemes.

After getting bathed, dressed and saying prayers, I will tuck my son into bed and he will look at me with the saddest eyes he can muster, conjure up his sweetest little boy tone and say, “Daddy, I’m hun-gy.”

He knows I am a sucker for this and I will inevitably go get him something semi-healthy to munch on. Then, after the snack, “Daddy, I’m firsty.”

If I have reservations about putting my child to bed hungry, I am certainly not going to put him to bed thirsty.

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No big guns required on Crop Tour

It has been a real crop tour couple of weeks with our own Ohio Crop Tour down I-71 and I-75 last week and Ty Higgins’ national trip through crop fields from Ohio to Minnesota as a broadcast media representative on the Pro Farmer Crop Tour.

With a bit of crop tour experience under my belt, I can say that they are very enjoyable and informative, but quite rigorous and downright exhausting. My experience involved early mornings and late nights while trying to organize the group, cater to the needs of my fellow travelers, compile the mountain of data we collected over the two day period, shoot video, conduct interviews, take photos and, most importantly, have fun.

In total, we made 20 stops in 20 counties over two days. The yield measurements would take 20 to 30 minutes or so at each stop and then we would jump in the car and I would compile the data on the way and post it on the web, listening to catchy Bluegrass music with Jon Miller along the way.

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Quirky Albuquerque

By Matt Reese

I recently had the privilege of attending the Ag Media Summit in Albuquerque, an event which my wife was a speaker on a panel. So, while we had plenty of work to do, we tried to do some fun stuff as well on our hot date (without the kids) in the Southwest.

One highlight of the trip was a hot air balloon ride in this self proclaimed “Hot Air Balloon Capital of the World.” As it turns out, Albuquerque’s climate is very well suited for ballooning and the state’s single top economic event is the International Balloon Fiesta in October. Jonathan, our adept balloon pilot, told us that a typical commercial balloon setup

costs around $120,000 and the ballon lasts for about 500 flights. Different colors last different durations by faring differently in the UV rays and general wear and tear. As the material ages, the pores expand and eventually degrade the balloons.

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Ohio State Fair time for the Reeses

Our calendars have been cleared, our cash has been stockpiled and we have spent an inordinate amount of time

trimming, shearing, washing, baking, organizing, packing, and preparing. In late summer, that can only mean one thing at the Reese house — is it time for the Ohio State Fair.

We almost live at the event from late July through the early August conclusion of the fair. Our children have an almost constant sheen of fair grime coating their bodies and we all smell like a mix of sweat, sheep, sawdust and fair food through most of the event. Our daughter participates in the ladies lead competition, we show Horned Dorsets in the Open Breeding Sheep Show, Kristin entered (and won) a table display competition in the Ag & Hort. Building, we have two Christmas trees on display (the grand champion spruce, the grand champion fir and the overall Reserve Champion), Kristin coordinates the Ohio Lamb and Wool Queen Competition, and she is doing a cooking demo or two and serving lamb in the food pavilion.

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Angry Birds may distract from drought

By Matt Reese

I am fortunate to have one of those fancy I-phones for work. On the phone, I can surf the Web, send and receive email, record interviews, take photos, check Facebook, monitor Twitter, add posts to the website, and even play Angry Birds. While all of these applications do come in handy very regularly, the most-used feature on my fancy phone this summer has been the weather radar as I watch the rain (or lack of) move across the state. I downloaded an app (fancy phone speak for “application”) from The Weather Channel that provides a handy daily weather update and an animated radar map with up-to-the-minute accuracy. In years like this, this kind of app can be pretty addictive.

The app also has a feature where you can target the locations of the most interest on the map, and I have plenty of areas around the state I’m very interested in watching.

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Product may be partially produced with Brussels sprouts

By Matt Reese

I came home a little later than usual from the office and dinner was almost ready. As I walked in the door, I heard my wife say to the children, “Are you guys ready for some French fries?”

My taste buds were then on high alert. While she doesn’t make them often, Kristin will occasionally cut up potatoes, glaze them with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake them — one of my favorite treats.

It smelled great. I reached into the refrigerator to grab some ketchup. I set the condiment on the counter in anticipation of the French fries and my wife gave me a funny look.

“Ok kids, eat your French fries,” she said as she handed the kids their plates.

My two-year-old son shares my enthusiasm for French fries and wore a huge smile, ready to tear into the delicious potatoes. It was at this point that I noticed the “French fries” looked kind of funny.

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Too bad to be true?

By Matt Reese

Elizabeth (Altstaetter) Almeida, with Fat Moon at Meadowbrook Farm in Massachusetts, grew up on a Logan County cattle farm and moved to Massachusetts and started an organic farm. She agreed to share some insights from her urban East Coast customers about Midwestern agriculture. In return, I will be fielding questions from her customers about “Big Ag” in this forum titled “Table to Farm.” Each week I, along with some occasional expert input from others, will be addressing consumer questions about food. I would encourage any other farm folks to jump in with their thoughts on the questions as well. This is to be an open and honest discussion to help provide clarity to the mysteries of agriculture.

I am the editor for an Ohio farm publication that covers the broad spectrum of agriculture in the state. My wife and I have a very small farm where we raise meat chickens, eggs and sheep on a very small scale.

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Seeing the job through

By Matt Reese

Carl Hoshor recently turned 90 years old, but he is still actively involved in his roofing business.

We needed some work done on the slate roof of our old farmhouse and contacted Hosher to do the job. His sons Rick and Gary do the bulk of the labor now, but he is still “supervising” and helping out from the ground level.

The business is based in nearby Baltimore. Part of the job at our house was the removal of an old brick chimney that was damaged in a tornado last spring. Hoshor watched from the ground as his sons dismantled the same chimney that he helped put in 65 years ago while working for his father, Joseph. Now THAT is what I call seeing a job through to completion!

 

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Pondering berry picking

By Matt Reese

It is berry picking time at the Reese house as the black raspberries are ripening early this year. This has provided me with ample opportunities to busy my hands with work while my mind can wax poetic. These just pop into my brain while I pick (and eat) raspberries before the birds get to them. I thought I’d share the results of my berry picking pondering here.

A berry today or a pie tomorrow,

To eat either brings joy and to not brings sorrow.

To enjoy berries today is a wonderful thing,

But waiting a bit can even better treats bring.

So I eat one or two and I save three of four,

Then eat a berry and save a few more.

For a man who saves berries is really quite wise,

When he has a wife who makes raspberry pies.

 To pick berries brings such pleasure and pain,

Fingertips punctured and stained.

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Enjoy some wine and cheese in June

By Matt Reese

Vanilla ice cream paired with chocolate sauce, a hamburger hot of the grill paired with a fresh sliced garden tomato, watermelon in a bowl of mixed fruit, sweet corn paired with pretty much anything — the summer months have arrived and so has my hankering for delicious food combinations I seek out during this wonderful time of year. Not to be outdone, though, is maybe the most popular pairing of all — wine and cheese.

Of course, June is Dairy Month, and a great time to enjoy dairy products of all

kinds.

“June Dairy Month was started in 1937 — and that means this year marks the 75th anniversary of this celebration,” said Jenny Hubble, vice president of communication for American Dairy Association Mideast. “June Dairy Month was initially created to stabilize dairy demand during periods of peak production but has now developed into an annual tradition to honor our dairy industry and the many contributions it makes.

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Food production is no piece of cake

By Matt Reese

Hundreds of years of agricultural innovation, research and hard work have made it easier to produce and consume food. This, after all, is what people have always sought with agricultural production. Foraging for berries and killing wild animals for food was certainly not easy, which resulted in the need for agricultural production. Tilling the soil and toiling on the land to produce food in the earliest days of agriculture was easier, but still not easy.

Since then, mankind has continually sought to make food production and distribution easier through a wide array of scientific advancements and innovations that have changed the business of agriculture and changed the world and society in the process. Now, food is comparatively easier and cheaper than ever before. A meal is just a trip to the grocery or a restaurant away. The process to get it there is still by no means easy, but it is easier (I would guess) than slaying a wooly mammoth for dinner.

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Sun, sweat and hay

By Matt Reese

As I finished stacking the last few square bales on the third load for the day, I used my shirt to wipe the sweat out of my eyes and hopped off the wagon. As a child, I hated baling hay. I hated the inevitable heat, the dust and all the green stuff that gets lodged in your nose. I hated the oppressive heat of unloading and the scratchy hay against my skin.

But now my hay perspective has changed a bit. My father-in-law bales around 50 acres of hay, some in square bales and some in round. And, while I can’t say that I look forward to helping on the wagon stacking bales, I can’t say that I don’t enjoy it, either.

In this busy time of my life, most of my days are spent chasing deadlines and children, doing household chores or running from one event to the next.

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The mystery of the Central Ohio cereal killer

By Matt Reese

My kids love Life — cereal.

It was nearly bedtime for our two children and they wanted a snack. After debating the merits of candy, ice cream or cookies before bed, I convinced the children that some delicious Life cereal was the best way to go.

I got the box out of the cupboard that I had put there after breakfast that morning. I opened it up and poured out some of its contents into a bowl with an unsettling “thwump” sound. I looked in the bowl to find a coagulated mass of partially crumpled up Life cereal. I poked it to find that it was sort of gooshey and quite unappetizing in every way.

My mind started racing to assess the potential causes of this horror wrapped up in a cereal box. Had this been festering in there for weeks (or months) since it was packaged? What were the health implications since we’d eaten from this box for breakfast?

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May — what a month!

May — what a month! It is National Egg Month and National Hamburger Month, which are two of my favorite things.  In fact, fairly recently I had a combination of the two and it was delicious. I will say that the initial thought of a delicious egg on a delicious burger did not necessarily sound appealing, but it was actually very good. My wife and kids met me in Columbus for lunch at a small Columbus restaurant called “Skillet” that focuses on serving foods produced at local farms. I got the burger and it had an egg on it, along with some other tasty stuff. It made for a fantastic May sandwich.

May is also a great month because of the excitement of the planting season and, more importantly, my birthday. But that is still not all May has to offer, here are some other important days in May. I found this on the Internet, so these all must be true:

 

May 1 is .

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