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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.”


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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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!

 … Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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?… Continue reading

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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 .… Continue reading

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Preschool animal day

This week, the Reese family was fortunate enough to get to help with our

daughter’s preschool animal day. In our rural community, several of the kids

in our daughter’s preschool are from farms. So, on a pleasant spring day,

locals bring some gates and some critters and set up a fun farm day right outside the church preschool. We brought two sheep, along with some lamb recipe cards and some fun sheep stickers to hand out to the kids.

The event was a huge success, with a young boy staring up at a massive Case IH tractor saying, “This is the best day EVER” with the sincerity only a four-year old can muster. There were cows, a goat, ducks, rabbits, a pony, donkeys, pigs and a preschool full of happy kids.

When our four-year-old daughter’s class came through the display, we were

very proud parents as she told her classmates that the sheep were Horned Dorset ewes.… Continue reading

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The tardy martin mystery

They arrive in mid April of each year —

One more reason to celebrate.

Another wonder of spring to cheer,

But the purple martins are one day late.

Maybe they’ll come tomorrow.

Then their throaty cries will resonate,

And bring spring’s joy to winter’s sorrow.

The purple martins are two days late.

The sugar peas in the garden have sprung.

The daffodil bloom is first-rate.

The wheat fields are green beneath the sun.

The purple martins are three days late.

The insects are buzzin’ with no Martins to eat them,

Gnats have begun to congregate.

I just can’t imagine what would keep them,

The purple martins are four days late.

The martins have arrived on the very same day,

For more than 45 years — now this wait.

My old martin house by the pond is crumbling away,

And the purple martins are five days late.

They fly up here from far down south,

From the Amazon to our northern state.… Continue reading

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The dark secrets of agriculture

By Matt Reese

With full bellies and suspicious minds, consumers are questioning more than ever the science behind their food. Genetically modified crops, antibiotics, pesticides — these are all scary sounding things that seem more at home in a science laboratory than in relation to something as intimate as the food on our plates.

Despite the fact that it is this same technology that allows for those plates to be so full of healthy, bountiful and diverse foods, the reality is that such science sounds suspicious to many consumers. This certainly seems to be the case for the frenzy of fears associated with antibiotic use in livestock. Like every aspect of these seemingly mysterious production practices, science is on the side of agriculture, but it is not always easy, or practical, to convey this to people. Because of this, it is easy for the agricultural industry as a whole (from the scientists to the farmers) to make decisions based on the science and move forward without much explanation to or consultation with the general populace about what is going on.… Continue reading

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Follow up with the foul-mouthed food blogger

We recently took a trip to the city.

It was an adventure with the children, my wife, and her siblings, parents, grandparents and

me on a road trip to visit my brother-in-law in southern Mississippi, just outside of New Orleans. One day on the trip, we went into the city to see the sights and enjoy some delicious beignets.

Though we had a nice time, it had to be very clear to anyone we encountered that we were not locals. We had cameras. We had to ask for directions. We made numerous wrong turns, and we were not quite sure how to place an order at the local café. I am sure we were quite a site in the land of stylish Mardi Gras masks and colorful beads. We fit in about as well as a corn planter on Bourbon Street in the Big Easy because it was just not what we are used to dealing with on a daily basis.… Continue reading

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Mississippi crawfish boil

We went on family trip to visit my brother-in-law in southern Mississippi early this week. We celebrated Easter with a delicious Cajun Crawfish Boil. This was a first for me, and anyone in my family. While I wouldn’t want to do it every day, there are certainly worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Basically, from what I could ascertain, a boil involves throwing a bunch of stuff in a giant pot with Creole seasoning. Our boil included sweet corn, onions, peppers,

spicy alligator sausage, mushrooms, potatoes, and 35 pounds of fresh caught crawfish. All of the ingredients, minus the crawfish, were chopped up and prepared before being combined in the pot and boiled for a half hour or so. With a rolling boil, the live crawfish are poured into the pot and boiled for another 5 or 10 minutes. The spicy boil was stirred with a shovel, for an extra special rustic touch.… Continue reading

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Breakfast with the foul-mouthed food blogger

By Matt Reese

With a poof of disdain amid a cloud of black language, the Backyarditarian stormed into the breakfast meeting of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance late last month.

At the Chicago meeting, food related bloggers were invited to meet with the nearly 20 farmers (including my wife, Kristin) at the event to share breakfast and open conversation. Because

Kristin represented by far the smallest farm there, all of the bloggers invited were tolerant of her, though some asked her how she could associate with these other large-scale farmers. The bloggers, in general, were very extreme in their disdain of “Big Ag.”

From their comments and conversations, it appears that the staunchest opponents of “Big Ag” at the event do not care about: food prices, farm profitability, a shortage of food in the absence of Big Ag, technology and efficiency, efforts to maximize animal care, or environmental stewardship efforts.… Continue reading

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2012 tree planting on the Reese farm

The incredible March weather has inspired (and allowed) all types of farmers to get an early start on preparations for the spring planting season. The Reese Christmas tree farm was no exception.

Though we typically plant in early April, and have never planted in March, the warm weather left soils nearly ideal for planting. And, unlike many other crops, there is no potential penalty (at least that we can think of) for planting Christmas trees early. So, this year we finished planting even before we typically start.

We planted 1,700 Canaan fir trees last week and 210 white pine, 100 Norway Spruce and 300 Scotch Pine trees this week. In the past, we have typically hand planted all of our trees, using a six-inch auger to make the holes. This is a huge amount of physical labor (and I am not as young as I used to be).

This year, we planted the first 1,200 or so trees in the open field with a two-man riding planter in around 3 hours.… Continue reading

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Is ag up a creek without a paddle on phosphorus issue?

By Matt Reese

I think I have convinced my children that I am pretty smart. They are at the ages where they ask copious amounts of questions. And, every time they ask me a question, I have an answer for them.

“Daddy, why is this soccer ball round?”

“So it rolls after you kick it.”

“Daddy, why do we have a fireplace?”

“So we can stay warm in the winter.”

“Daddy, where do baby puppies come from?”

“Ask your mother.”

And, while it is important for all-knowing parents such as myself to have all of the answers, it is a matter of political survival for politicians. The reality is, though, that nobody has all of the answers. In the case of what to do about the oft-discussed algal blooms in Lake Erie, there are no clear answers. But, an “I don’t know” from a politician in response to an angry constituent

who got a gooey glob of blue-green algae stuck in his jet ski is not acceptable.… Continue reading

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What are you doing for Ohio Ag Week?

By Matt Reese

To celebrate Ohio Ag Week (the second full week of March) at the Reese house, we made an all-Ohio meal. We used fresh eggs gathered from our own hens that day, bacon and ham from a hog we got from our neighbor, Snowville Creamery Milk from Pomeroy Ohio and some cheese. The cheese came from the local grocery, but we’re not sure about the exact origin of the cheese, so we fudged a bit there.

Our four-year-old daughter made the meal from the cracking of the eggs (she has been doing this since she was two) to adding the cheese, with some supervision from her mother.

 

 

 

The scrambled eggs were delicious and (almost) all from Ohio. It was a great meal, a fun family project, and a great way to help the kids learn about where their food comes from. What are you doing for Ohio Ag Week?… Continue reading

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Put on pants and go old school on weeds this spring

By Matt Reese

Technology can be a fantastic thing. A few months ago, we started having OCJ/Ohio Ag Net office meetings via Skype on Monday mornings. That way, wherever we were, we could fire up our computers and talk with each other over the Internet. There is something kind of nice about attending a meeting in your underpants from the comfort of your living room.

As things progressed, it became more apparent that in-person meetings were more productive, so we switched to that format. This required me to shave, put on my pants and take the time to face the traffic and the grim drive into work on Monday mornings. While this was rough duty, the in-person meetings have proven more fruitful. Technology can be great, but sometimes it is better to put on pants and be a bit more old-fashioned.

Getting back to old school weed control will be increasingly important as glyphosate resistant weeds continue to pop up and spread in Ohio fields.… Continue reading

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