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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.”


Animal regulations and the future for today's 4-H exhibitors

By Matt Reese

Starting in late July, a sea of dedicated Ohio youth clad in plaid shirts, jeans and shiny belt buckles congregated in Columbus for the Ohio State Fair, the pinnacle of livestock shows in the state. They arrived toting meticulously groomed and cared for market livestock of every kind — from goats to beef cattle.

Many of these young people have been perfecting their showmanship skills since they could carry a show stick and have spent months painstakingly working with their animals. They go to great lengths to make sure every hair is in place and every comfort is provided to maximize the animal’s performance.

Once they get to the fair, the animals are cleaned to a show ring sheen and clipped to eye-appealing perfection. When the show arrives, the young exhibitors toil in the sweltering heat to present their animals to the discerning eye of the judge.

After the champion has been chosen and the ribbons awarded, tears are shed as the animal and exhibitor part after spending countless hours together in preparation for this event.

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I got your goat: Matt’s video debut

There is a reason I am a writer and photographer. I have no experience doing on-camera interviews, but someone had to do the interview we needed at the recent Ohio State Fair Wether Goat Show. That someone was me.

I made sure my hair was combed and I did not have any stains on my shirt before the interview. We had my daughter Campbell help do the sound check to make sure we had the mic hooked up to the camera properly. All in all, it was quite an event and the interviews did not turn out too bad, after extensive editing. For the videos, visit the goat show result links at the top of the OCJ home page at www.ocj.com.

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I got your goat: Matt's video debut

There is a reason I am a writer and photographer. I have no experience doing on-camera interviews, but someone had to do the interview we needed at the recent Ohio State Fair Wether Goat Show. That someone was me.

I made sure my hair was combed and I did not have any stains on my shirt before the interview. We had my daughter Campbell help do the sound check to make sure we had the mic hooked up to the camera properly. All in all, it was quite an event and the interviews did not turn out too bad, after extensive editing. For the videos, visit the goat show result links at the top of the OCJ home page at www.ocj.com.

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Can you ID the donkey in the HSUS deal?

The donkey in our barn needed its hooves trimmed, but I had no experience in the realm of jackass foot care. I was completely unsure how to proceed until my friend Chad came over and said that he would be trimming the hooves of his (and his in-laws) donkeys the following day. He said if I helped him trim his donkey hooves, he would be glad to help me. How fortunate.

The next morning I found myself chest deep in a pasture of nettles and poison ivy trying to round up donkeys that were not too interested in being rounded up. In our system, Chad (who is a much more experienced donkey farrier than I) did the trimming and I was charged with wrestling and holding the surly beasts of burden that were quite dismayed about the entire situation. In the process, I was kicked, bitten and stepped on.

I complained enough about my various injuries from the experience that my wife was not sure who the real donkey was in the barn when we finally got to the hooves of our donkey (see my blog at www.ocj.com for a photo).

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Gardening with the Reeses

Gardening with two little ones at the Reese house is always interesting. We have been harvesting green beans, squash, zucchinis, lettuce, and cherry tomatoes (no regular tomatoes yet). Our kids help (sort of) with the endeavor and never fail to make harvesting the garden a memorable experience.

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Barn rehab

Including my children, five generations of my family have worked and played in this Hancock County barn — that is a lot of pichforking and straw tunnels. My parents hired a gifted Amish crew to give it a major makeover for future generations of Reeses. The Indiana-based crew has a driver that brings them two-hours each way to work on the barn.
Every day of work brings exciting progress and my daughter has already expressed interest in playing in the barn as soon as it is finished. I hope she too gets the chance to play “King of the Mountain” and spend hours crawling through the straw tunnels of this grand old old barn. We’d love to hear your favorite old barn memories.

Siding the south side,

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Can you ID the donkey here?

The holiday weekend was filled with farm fun. We unloaded hay, cleaned the chicken coop and on Saturday morning trimmed donkey hooves. This was my first experience trimming hooves and it was rough. I was kicked, bitten and stepped on numerous times while we trimmed this donkey at my house and six others at other area farms. My friend Chad said he would teach me how to trim hooves if I helped him. I think I had the rougher end of the deal. I also recently discovered that more people are killed annually by donkeys, on average, then die in plane crashes.
At any rate, I complained enough about my various injuries from the experience that my wife was not sure who the real donkey was in this photo.

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More run-ins with HSUS

We have had a lot of great comments since I posted Lori’s tale in “Moon over Licking County” from others who have had run-ins with HSUS paid signature gatherers. I have heard about incidents at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Fairfield County, public libraries, gas stations and even the Bellevue Community Days festival. Police were called in some cases, but there have been no arrests and only civil (though sometimes heated) confrontations. Thanks for standing up for what is right in your communities and for all of your great stories (see some below). Unfortunately, it sounds as if HSUS has probably gotten their necessary number of signatures for an issue on the November ballot.

From Kim Lemmon, OCJ managing editor:

So this time it is not a second hand story. I was approached today – Friday, June 25 – at the Mt. Gilead, Ohio Kroger Fuel Pump by an HSUS signature collector.

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Moon over Licking County

Country Crossroads by Matt Reese

The moon was out just after mid-day in Licking County last month after Lori Lawrence, an OCJ marketing specialist, confronted some signature gatherers at a Licking County Kroger.

Lori was leaving the store after getting some groceries when she spotted the two male 20-something paid signature gatherers roaming the parking lot. They were trying to drum up support for the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) ballot measure this fall.

The group needs 402,275 valid signatures by June 29, which means they will likely need over 500,000 actual signatures, to have enough legitimate names on the list to get their measure on the ballot in Ohio. The group was off to a surprisingly slow start earlier this spring with signature numbers that were far below what HSUS was hoping for.

To remedy the problem, HSUS sued the state of Ohio over a statute that was written to make sure only Ohioans could gather signatures to change state laws.

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