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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.”


We’ll always have Paris…oh wait, never mind

President Donald Trump again sent the left wing aflutter when he fulfilled another campaign promise by announcing a U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement that laid out a framework for countries to adopt clean energy and phase out fossil fuels in a global effort to address climate change.

The Paris Agreement seeks to hold “the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.”

This, to be sure, is a noble goal, but in the world of climate science (and much more so in the world of climate politics) there are many ifs, buts, unknowns, and educated guesses that can render even the best of intentions ineffective. At its best, the Paris Agreement is something that makes people who are terrified of climate change feel good that we are collectively doing something to address the challenge.

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Pollinator prose

Floating through meadows with charm,

Buzzing ’round flowers on farms,

Pollination facilitator,

Everyone loves a pollinator,

Until one lands on your arm.

In March it was made official: the rusty patched bumble bee is the first wild bee in the continental U.S. to gain federal protection on the government’s list of endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) listed the rusty patched bumble bee under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) effective on March 21, 2017. The final rule was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 11, 2017 with an effective date of Feb. 10, 2017. The effective date was subsequently extended to March 21, 2017 by the Trump Administration.

President Donald Trump, though, lifted the hold that had been placed on a plan for federal protections for the bee proposed last fall by the administration of Barack Obama.

“Our top priority is to act quickly to prevent extinction of the rusty patched bumble bee.

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Raising hands for 4-H

Ohio is winning and I decided I want to try and keep it that way.

As part of its “Raise Your Hand” campaign, National 4-H wants alumni to sign in at 4-H.org/alumni. The state with the most registered alumni by the end of June will bring home $20,000 to use towards 4-H programming. On May 23, Ohio led the national competition with 10,501 alumni. Coming in second was Indiana with 7,677. Texas was third with 4,495.

I remember watching in awe as something I built as a nine-year-old launched into the heavens. One of my first 4-H projects was rocketry and I still remember the euphoria as I gazed skyward at my rocket soaring over the Hancock County corn fields. That project was by no means the most influential part of 4-H for me, but a fond early memory from the program that was a part of my life for many years.

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Why are we hog wild over bacon?

While growing up my brothers and I had a running joke that, when asked how much bacon we wanted, we would answer, “Yes.” The idea was that whatever amount of bacon that was available is the amount that we wanted. The Reese brothers (and our father) REALLY enjoyed bacon growing up, and still do. Apparently, we had cutting edge culinary tastes, because bacon has since become quite trendy.

“Bacon is hip. It’s cool. It is kind of the Band-Aid of the kitchen. If you burn a roast, you wrap it in bacon and you’re good to go. Bacon just works. It is a super food in terms of how it can be utilized,” said Quinton Keeran, bacon fan extraordinaire. “I’m a backyard BBQ warrior kind of a guy and I have yet to make one thing that I couldn’t improve vastly by wrapping it in bacon.”

Keeran has, to some degree, built a fair portion of his professional career in Ohio agriculture around bacon.

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Earth Day offers opportunity to showcase stewardship

On April 22, the broad Earth Day Network will recognize the concerns and the work of dedicated scientists by co-organizing the March for Science Rally and Teach-Ins on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“This year’s theme for Earth Day worldwide is climate and environmental science literacy, which is why the rally and teach-ins on the National Mall are particularly meaningful,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “It is fitting that once again this year, Earth Day serves as a vehicle for mobilizing concerned citizens — not only on April 22nd, but throughout the year.”

This Earth Day can actually be a great opportunity to not only support scientific literacy but also promote understanding of agriculture’s role in environmental stewardship. Terry Fleck, executive director of The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) said most consumers aren’t completely convinced farmers are doing enough to protect the environment, according to the latest CFI trust research.

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Easter candy to avoid this weekend

In the Reese house we grew up hunting for Easter baskets then scarfing down as much candy as we possibly could before heading to church. And, while I do enjoy some delicious Easter candy, I recently stumbled across some types that are definitely worth steering clear of with regard to inclusion in a youngster’s Easter basket. Here are some to avoid this Easter and I’ll think you’ll see why.

 

marshmallow_creeps

Creeps

For those who don’t know, the Easter basket staple of Peeps marshmallowy candies has developed a sort of sub-culture of fanatics. There are Peeps speed eating contests (which I don’t recommend) and countless crafty masters of destruction have found a myriad of unique ways to explode Peeps in microwaves and record the act of brutality to post on the Internet. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes but some version of the Peep is a must-have for many Easter candy connoisseurs as they are the fourth most-popular Easter candy.

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Ohio relief efforts sweeter than the meadowlark’s song

A western meadowlark garbled its charming call, watching over me from a charred tree limb as I rolled up strands of ruined barbed wire crossing through the bird’s former grassland home. In the place of the endless stretches of native grasses and forbs waiting on rains to burst with spring growth, blackened hillsides sprawled out in every direction. Despite its pleasant sound, one would have to guess that the state bird of Kansas serenading me was none to happy, having lost its home and livelihood in the few minutes it took the fires to sweep through the area driven by fierce March winds.

Like that lonely meadowlark, many ranchers in the area lost everything in a matter of minutes and we were there to offer a helping hand. In March, I had the wonderful privilege of travelling with a group of Ohioans to deliver supplies and get some work done in Clark County, Kan.

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Ohio to Kansas photo highlights: Farmers helping farmers

March 2017

Ohioans got together through Facebook to lend a helping hand to the folks in need in Ashland, Kansas after devastating wildfires burned the area.

March 24

7 a.m: The BAV crew meets up at the Beck’s facility near London.

8:30 a.m: The crew congregated at a rest stop near the Indiana state line with media, more than 40 loads of hay, feed, fencing supplies, and other items to start the convoy west.

9 a.m. to after 7 p.m.: The convoy cruised due west on I-70 through some brutal crosswinds, a traffic jam or two and some rain showers.

7:19 p.m.: BAV crew arrived at the Kansas City Hotel (with the remainder of the Kansas City Group to follow) for a delicious dinner at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ. The rest of the group continued on to Pratt about an hour out from Ashland.

March 25

7:45 a.m.: The groups fueled up for the last push for Ashland.

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At the heart of agriculture is a helping hand

This picture is a stump of a Christmas tree I cut down last December on my family’s farm in northwest Ohio. My niece noticed the heart-shape and asked me to take a photo. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it caught my attention later as I scrolled though my phone photos.

As I looked at the photo more, I began to see it as a symbol of the farm that is more than just a place of labor or source of income. My heart is in it. The family farm — the soil, weeds, trees, buildings, wet spots, the critters that roam it, all of it — is a part of me. And no matter where I go or what I do, that farm will always be there. I know that most of you feel the same way.

Now, imagine that this piece of you — your farm — was devastated despite your best efforts to save it.

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Everyday heroes

I am unbelievably fortunate to have many heroes in my life, some who have been top of mind as of late. I thought I’d share with you a bit about these “everyday heroes.” I am sure you know some too.

 

Uncle Mike

I grew up beneath the gaze of this picture hanging on the wall of our school. One day in late junior high I was looking up at it. Another student stopped and asked, “Who’s that.”

“My uncle.”

The other kid looked up at the demigod staring down at us from the photo and then looked at me (uncoordinated with big glasses) with obvious and warranted skepticism. Uncle by marriage…not blood, but certainly an uncle to be proud to know both then and now.

In his formative years J. Mike Inniger was the epitome of a small town football hero that lives on in that picture and will long (and deservedly) be remembered for being a leader of the undefeated and unscored-on 1968 State Champion team in the hallowed halls of Cory-Rawson High School.

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Who’s the rabbit now?

Early this year Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it would be shutting down with the final installment of the “Greatest Show on Earth” this May. This is at least partially a result of one final trick from the wildly popular Barnum & Bailey performing elephants — they disappeared.

Tickets sales for the circus really slumped after the touring elephants were retired in mid-2016 to the point that, when paired with high operating costs, the business became unsustainable. Of course, animal rights activist organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), were behind the push to pull elephants from the circus.

The event attracts roughly 10 million visitors a year who will now have to seek new venues to get their fix of exotic animals and human oddities galore. There is no doubt that the circus that ran for nearly 150 years will be missed by many, but as the legendary  Barnum & Bailey fades from our memories in the name of “progress,” will the thought of performing elephants one day be as foreign as phones with cords that hang on the wall and 8-track players?

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My Plate My State puts Ohio-grown foods on cafeteria trays

Though my metal, rusting Adam-12 themed lunchbox of yesteryear was a far cry from the insulated designer lunchboxes my children use today, the challenges remain largely the same. Times have changed, but for a host of reasons, schools continue to struggle to provide high-quality, low-cost nutritious meals that finicky students actually want to eat — though it is not for lack of trying.

Certainly a legacy of the Obama Administration will be Michelle’s oft-discussed school lunch requirements and I know plenty of hard working school cafeteria folks that really try on a daily basis only to be labeled with the notorious “lunch lady” moniker. But all of the many efforts that have taken place from my childhood until now have done little to slow the endless amounts of homemade PB&J or lunchmeat sandwiches and pudding cups carried to school each day.

Another challenge in places like Ohio with strong farm roots and diverse agricultural production is to connect the local food producers with the needs of the school system.

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Be on the lookout for prognosticating groundhogs next week

Early spring hopefuls will soon flock to the nearest prognosticating groundhog to gain meteorological insights into the weeks ahead. Known as Groundhog Day, the U.S. tradition builds upon old German lore associated with predicting the spring weather on Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple on Feb. 2.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Winter has another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Winter will not come again.

Somewhere along the line someone added the hibernating groundhog and its shadow to the Candlemas tradition and Groundhog Day was later adopted in the U.S. in 1887. While Pennsylvania has the longest running tradition, Ohio is home to two groundhog meteorologists.

From Ohio History Central: “Buckeye Chuck is one of two groundhogs in Ohio known for predicting the arrival of spring.

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2016 1-75/I-71 Crop Tour follow up

To follow up on our I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour, we got some of the actual yields from the fields we sampled in August. Below you can see how well (or how poorly) we did with our yield estimates.

County, Actual yield, Crop Tour estimate in August

Allen, 160, 136

Auglaize 150, 150

Darke, 205, 152

Fairfield, 206, 169

Hardin, 158, 150

Hancock, 180, 140

Henry, 185, 146

Miami, 196, 151

Morrow, 161, 142

Preble, 218, 180

Putnam, 150, 100

Richland, 175, 164

Ross, 168, 157

Wood, 152, 152

Warren, 165, 193

Williams, 203, 195

Here is our August report from the 2016 I-75/I-71 Crop Tour

The 2016 growing season started wet and cool then turned hot and dry in many areas — a classic worst-case scenario for corn and soybeans. There were certainly some examples that showed up in fields on the 2016 I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour displaying evidence of those challenging conditions.

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Mink in the house!!

A mink is surely among the top few creatures that roam the wilds of Ohio that you do not want to encounter in close quarters. Minks are rarely seen but widely known for their beautiful pelts. They are also cunning, ferocious and have a musky odor that almost rivals a skunk. In short, a mink is not something you hope to find in your home.

My sister-in-law got home this week to find my brother holding two brooms with a look of sheer terror on his face after a mink was discovered in their house. The theory is that the mink came in to the basement through the sump pump drain tile that leads to the creek on their wooded property in northwest Ohio, but they don’t really know for sure. The mink was discovered when my five-year-old nephew opened the basement door to find it running up the steps at him.

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Longest National Anthem delays lunch, but highlights reasons to be thankful moving into the politics of 2017

Last Thanksgiving, some of you may recall the football game that kicked off with what may be the longest-ever version of the National Anthem. Though it is typically around two minutes, legendary singer Aretha Franklin stretched the song to a full four minutes and 35 seconds before a matchup between the Lions and the Vikings.

On that day I was at the end of the line for a Thanksgiving feast and very hungry. The television was on in the background leading up to the game when I had finally gotten my massive plate full of Thanksgiving food and sat down to eagerly feast.

I didn’t even notice what was on the television across the room, and neither did anyone else, except for my seven-year-old son. I shoveled the first heaping fork full of food into my mouth to kick off one of my favorite meals of the year.

I quickly scooped up my next fork full but stopped with the food halfway to my mouth when I saw my son, sitting up on his knees in his chair beside me with his hand over his heart watching the waving American flag on the television.

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Top stories of 2016

Our web site keeps track of the stories that generate the most interest and at the end of the year we like to review the top stories to gain insight into how to better serve readers of our web and print content and our radio listeners. Plus, it is always fun to see which story comes out on top. To revisit all of these favorite web stories and videos in the last year, look for “2016 top stories of the year” on the right side of this web page. In addition to these top posts, other noteworthy drivers of web traffic in 2016 included the Ohio and Pro Farmer crop tours, the Ohio State Fair livestock show results, and Between the Rows. Weather challenges, the tough farm economy, all things draft horse, and farm technology also garnered major web traffic in the last 12 months. Here are the 10 most popular stories of 2016.

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The wilds of Ohio

As the end of the year draws near, we take a look back at the web posts that have done well over the last 12 months. Since the initial post about the possibility of crossbred coyotes that grow larger and could be more aggressive in Ohio’s fields and forests in 2014, it has become among the most popular on our web site. We continue to get comments and photos sent in from interested Ohio residents. Among them is Aaron from Southern Ohio Trail Cam Videos in Clermont County who has captured these incredible pictures of a large coyote in the area. Check these out and keep us posted about the residents of the wilds of Ohio.coyote

coyote2

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The ugliest Christmas tree

‘Tis the season for cutting Christmas trees on the Reese family farm.

We work very hard on our farm to grow nice looking Christmas trees, but anyone who has searched for the perfect tree knows that not all trees are created equal.

I spend many hours this time of year with families carefully pondering their perfect Christmas tree choice, strolling through the rows of manicured trees on the farm. I see families who let the youngest pick out the tree; for many families mom has 51% of the vote; other families alternate from year to year who picks the tree. None of those perfect trees are really perfect, but they are perfect for the families that pick them (unless they get one that is too big for the room). In the end, the decorated trees are all beautiful not because they are decorated perfectly, but because of the process of the decorating, the people who participated and the home in which it resides.

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Poultry documentary filmed at the Ohio Expo Center debuts this week on CMT

“Look at you. You are a warrior,” is not typically a phrase one would utter to a chicken, unless, that is, you are considered Chicken People.

There are few places where more of these birds of a feather flock together than the Ohio National Poultry Show held at the Ohio Expo Center each November — the PERFECT place to film portions of the new Chicken People movie that will have its broadcast premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 23 on Country Music Television (CMT) at 8 p.m.

The film is described as a “charming, critically acclaimed CMT documentary about the colorful and hugely competitive world of champion show chicken breeders…A real life ‘Best in Show,’ but about chickens, the film follows the struggles and triumphs of both humans and their feathered muses on the road to compete at the Ohio National Poultry Show, considered the Westminster of Chickens. Chicken may be just food for most people, but raising the perfect chicken is an all-consuming passion for some.”

Indeed. 

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