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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.”


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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Everybody loves puppies

Everybody loves puppies, so, while I am busy putting together stories from Commodity Classic this week, I thought I would share with you some photos of the newest addition to the Reese family – Clayton. He is a Great Pyrenees that lives in the barn with the sheep to hopefully one day thwart the growing coyote population in our area. We have, thus far, not had any trouble with coyotes getting into the sheep. But, it is not uncommon to go out in the evening and hear the calls of two or three different groups of coyotes from the surrounding woods.

Although Clayton now looks like a puffy baby polar bear, he will grow to a size that will be formidable for any of the coyotes in the area. My wife has wanted a Great Pyrenees for years, though I have tried to postpone a new puppy for as long as possible.

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To eat or not eat that Golden Burrito…

By Matt Reese

The marketing masters from Chipotle have once again fired up farmers with a video that promotes small-scale agriculture while vilifying larger farms. While the promotion of small farms, like ours, is fine, it is the vilifying part that draws objections from many in the agricultural community. My wife, Kristin, writes a regular blog though her involvement in the national CommonGround program. She recently weighed in on the subject. Here is an excerpt from, “To eat or not eat that Golden Burrito…” by Kristin Reese.

I have had mixed feelings about Chipotle for a few years. While I support and advocate for consumer choice when it comes to food, it has become my tag line that, “Local is great but bigger is better.” When I say bigger is better I mean it from a global viewpoint. I am thankful for customers who support smaller local growers like my family.

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Don’t change the RFS rules in the middle in the game

My four-year-old daughter and I were playing a game of cards the other day. The goal of the game was to get a matching set of 8 cards, or so I thought. I had just gotten the final card for victory when my daughter announced that she had changed the rules slightly and that I

was not the winner. The new rules, however, fit her set of cards perfectly.

“Sorry, daddy,” she said. “I won again.”

This story is funny when playing cards with a four-year-old, but is no laughing matter when dealing with billions of dollars and a nation’s energy security. But, it seems that some folks feel they need to change the rules in the middle of the game for the outcome they want when it comes to the heated debate surrounding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

This is why the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association have drawn a line in the sand regarding the RFS.

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Don't change the RFS rules in the middle in the game

My four-year-old daughter and I were playing a game of cards the other day. The goal of the game was to get a matching set of 8 cards, or so I thought. I had just gotten the final card for victory when my daughter announced that she had changed the rules slightly and that I

was not the winner. The new rules, however, fit her set of cards perfectly.

“Sorry, daddy,” she said. “I won again.”

This story is funny when playing cards with a four-year-old, but is no laughing matter when dealing with billions of dollars and a nation’s energy security. But, it seems that some folks feel they need to change the rules in the middle of the game for the outcome they want when it comes to the heated debate surrounding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

This is why the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association have drawn a line in the sand regarding the RFS.

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Matt's Washington mission: Day 2

We  got to the USDA in time for a press conference from a very high level official, the notable Mark Thomas, who shared some of his deep insights from the vacant event podium inside the building

Also at the USDA, we really did meet with some high level officials. John Davis provides an overview from what we learned about the biotech regulatory process.

We grabbed some lunch at the bustling (and high priced) cafeteria in the Longworth Building, then I got to accompany farmers in ties as they went to meet with some lawmakers. We also got to meet with representatives from Ford Motor Company about the potential for future collaboration on finding the optimal blend of ethanol for the high efficiency engines of the future.

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Matt’s Washington mission: Day 2

We  got to the USDA in time for a press conference from a very high level official, the notable Mark Thomas, who shared some of his deep insights from the vacant event podium inside the building

Also at the USDA, we really did meet with some high level officials. John Davis provides an overview from what we learned about the biotech regulatory process.

We grabbed some lunch at the bustling (and high priced) cafeteria in the Longworth Building, then I got to accompany farmers in ties as they went to meet with some lawmakers. We also got to meet with representatives from Ford Motor Company about the potential for future collaboration on finding the optimal blend of ethanol for the high efficiency engines of the future.

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Heading to Washington with Ohio corn and wheat growers

I’m on the road with the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association this week. I’m headed to Washington along with their board and staff. Follow along as I bring you vlog updates on the issues we discuss and people we meet throughout the week.

I’m leaving town..

I had to get thoughts from the cab driver…

I talked to Jon Doggett with the National Corn Growers Association….

I was in the office of Bob, Dinneen, CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

What did I eat at Fogo de Chao

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Are you a Barbie girl?

I am guessing that you have never seen a promotional video for an agricultural commodity quite like this. At least I haven’t. This is lesson from the folks in Australia on how to generate interest in your products. Let me tell you, lamb has never looked quite so good. You may want to book some tickets to the land down under.

This is definitely worth a couple of minutes to watch, simply for the marketing aspect, of course. It will leave you ladies asking, “Am I a Barbie Girl?” and the guys may just take a second look at lamb in the grocery store. Fire up your grill, grab a pair of tongs and enjoy the show:

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Rock 'n Roll and PJs all day: Three days of Daddy in charge

By Matt Reese

My wife was gone for the latter part of last week on a trip to Washington, D.C. with the AgriPOWER Ohio Farm Bureau program. This left me in charge of the house by myself — not a small task with two young children and a barn full of animals to care for.

“No problem,” I said to her as she left for the airport and wished me good luck in her absence.

While my wife was gone, I employed different strategies to save time, maximize efficiency and make it a fun few days.

Strategy 1: Do not clean or pick up anything until three hours before my wife comes home

Conservative estimates on my part show a three-hour-per-day time savings with this strategy. When considering all of the discarded toys, food spill catastrophes (some of these did require immediate attention), dirty dishes, muddy boot prints on the floor, tossed food containers, removed shoes, clothing and other items that result from the daily activities of two small children and their father, three hours of cleaning a day may be on the low side.

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