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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.”


Top Stories of 2015

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, visit ocj.com and look for “2015 top stories of the year” on the right side of the page. In addition to these top posts, other noteworthy drivers of web traffic in 2015 included the Ohio and Pro Farmer crop tours, the Ohio State Fair livestock show results, and Between the Rows. Weather challenges, unusual Ohio wildlife, 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 2015.

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A perfect fit

Dylan was sitting in the tractor seat scrolling through photos of beautiful Courtney on his phone and reviewing her text messages.

He had gotten this job at the Christmas tree farm as a favor from the farm owner to his father. At 17-years-old, Dylan didn’t listen to his parents. He didn’t care about his schoolwork. He was sort of interested in football and track, but mostly he didn’t care for much of anything — except for Courtney, and he was supposed to meet her after work that day.

His dad thought Dylan would learn a thing or two about hard work and respect for others with some time spent employed at the Christmas tree farm. So far, though, Dylan’s lackluster work ethic and self-centered nature clearly demonstrated that he was not really interested in this job either.

His thoughts of Courtney were interrupted when the farm owner yelled out from the barn, “Dylan, can you please get off your phone and help Mr.

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THANK FUL 4 U

Michael had ruined Thanksgiving.

As nine-year-old boys have been known to do, he had thrown a terrible fit after being woken from a nap. By the time his mother walked into the room, she could tell the pleasant Thanksgiving get-together was about to end (at least for her). She calmly picked Michael up as he kicked and screamed and said everything horrible thing he could think up, wrestling his mother all the way to the car seat and making quite a scene in front of the whole family.

With a few more snarls from Michael and another fit about putting on pajamas after getting home, he was tucked into bed in the tiny, tired-looking apartment. His exhausted mother impatiently left the room and said tersely, “Goodnight Michael.”

Michael awoke the next morning feeling incredibly remorseful for his behavior. He was getting too old for that sort of thing, after all.

He could see the dim glow of the morning’s first sun creeping in through the window when suddenly it dawned on him — sheer genius!

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What facts are really facts?

It can be really hard to know which way to feel about some issues because these days it seems everyone has their own set of “facts” that conclusively proves their point. The problem, of course, is that as soon as you conclusively prove a point, you run into someone else who has an entirely different set of facts that definitively proves their point, which happens to be the opposite view of the first point that was proven. Confused yet? I know I am.

One only has to sit and listen to a political debate on any issue between any candidates of any party to get all caught up in a muddled mess of my-facts-versus-your-facts. Then there is often a behind-the-scenes reporter who does a fact check on the aforementioned facts to clarify the situation. Unfortunately, more often than not, these fact checks often just compound the problem by providing another opportunity to spin the issue with a set of suspect facts about the facts.

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Veterans and an attitude of service

Life is not all about “me.” Life is about serving others — not ourselves — and agriculture has a unique way of teaching this key value.

An attitude of service always seems to be a bit more prevalent in rural agricultural areas (at least to me). The act of caring for the soil, tending to animals and producing products for others on the farm has a way of weaving itself into your moral code and instilling a willingness to serve others.

My wife and I are already trying to use lessons on the farm to teach our young children about the value of service to others. With this in mind, I tried to involve both of our children in the Operation Evergreen program this year. Each year to commemorate Veteran’s Day, veterans come out to our family Christmas tree farm and select trees that will be sent to troops overseas with the hope of providing a bit of holiday cheer so far from home.

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Farm and fair photo contest winner

With the end of the Fairfield County Fair in October, the 2015 Ohio fair season wrapped up. It has been another great year of fairs around Ohio and many online visitors enjoyed seeing favorite photos from around the state throughout the summer.

In addition, this year’s photo contest also included a bit more diversity with Ohio agriculturally-related photos of any kind. The contest ended Oct. 30. To see the entries, click here.

A winner was chosen based on the total number of votes via online voting. The winner will receive a pass for free admission to any Ohio county fair and the Ohio State Fair in 2016. The fair pass is compliments of the Ohio Fair Managers Association.

Farm and Fair Photo Contest Winner copy

This year’s winner is Cathy McKinney from Waynesburg, who submitted this photo with the following caption: Swimsuit — check. Cowboy boots — check. Feeding time — check. Summer on the farm — priceless.

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Ohio connections to the Capitol Tree

As Thanksgiving approaches, so does the annual tradition of getting in the holiday spirit that accompanies the magical time of year ahead. A couple of Ohio communities have a unique opportunity to get a jump on the Christmas spirit this month as the 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tours the state.

The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or “The People’s Tree” got its start in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. Since 1970, the U.S. Forest Service has provided a Christmas tree for the prominent location. A tree from a different national forest has been chosen each year. In 1987, Ohio provided a Norway spruce from Wayne-Hoosier National Forest for this purpose. The national forest also works with state forests to provide smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C.

While Ohio is not the home of this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree, there are a number of Ohio connections to the tree that will make the trip to the Capitol from its home in Alaska’s Chugach National Forest.

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Drama ensued when prisons pulled pork

Bacon, of course, is delicious, but pork tenderloin is a Reese family staple and one of the most-preferred swine products of choice for most get-togethers. In fact, pork tenderloin was the subject of intense hoopla in a recent Reese family culinary showdown.

My dad makes tasty pork tenderloin — there is no point in denying this. He was making delicious pork on the grill long before I fired up my first outdoor propane burner. But, as my generation ages, my brothers and I feel we each have come into our own when making delicious pork tenderloin, surpassing the elder Reese.

In an attempt to settle the ongoing dispute, there was a three-man pork cook-off last summer at the annual family reunion in Mt. Cory (I was not present this year). In the competition, my brothers Aaron and Jeff took on the more experienced, elder Reese. Those in attendance cast votes.

All reports confirm the three entries were indeed delicious and the event was enjoyable for all involved, but it was not without controversy.

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Turtle tales

After last week’s blog about carving turtle shells, several more turtle tales have been discussed. Here they are.

Late this summer, my son and his two ornery cousins were keenly interested in the turtle traps a local trapper had set in my parents’ farm pond. A few snappers had been seen in previous months and it became apparent that the issue should be addressed.

The four-, six- and seven-year-old boys typically run around their grandparents’ farm with wild abandon and get into every kind of mischief they can find. On that particular day their swath of general boyhood destruction and carefree conduct regularly passed through the area of the turtle traps to check in on the possibility of an apprehended aquatic reptile.

Early that afternoon, a cry of euphoria rang out that could likely be heard in the next township at the discovery that a turtle had indeed been secured.

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Share your story if it’s positive, change it if it’s not

There was a fair amount of online interest this week in a story about a box turtle in Holmes County that was found with the date 1911 carved on the underside of its shell.

The turtle was found by John A. Yoder in early September while he was helping a neighbor shock corn. Here is an excerpt from the Times Reporter story written by Jon Baker (I recommend checking out the whole thing):

Next to the date 1911 were the initials “V.F.” Abe Yoder said that is likely Victor Fender, who lived on a farm off Holmes County Road 600. Fender died in 1985.

Below that are carved the initials “H.T.” and the date 1983. Yoder said that is likely Henry E. Troyer, who owned Fender’s farm in 1983.

The farm is now occupied by Troyer’s son-in-law Joseph D. Miller.

The average life span of a box turtle is 50 years, but a significant portion of them live for more than 100 years.

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Food for the winter

Whether the weather is cold or mild this winter, it is a grim fact that there will be hungry Ohioans in the months ahead. This continues to be a terrible reality for far too many so close to home. Each year 186 million pounds of food are distributed by Ohio foodbanks to those in need around the state.

“Hunger is a pervasive reality in the Buckeye state that impacts more than one in six Ohioans,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director, Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

Because foodbanks, including the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, can leverage funds effectively, monetary donations are more useful than actual food donations. In fact, for every $1 donated to Mid-Ohio Foodbank, four meals can be provided to our hungry neighbors.

With that in mind, Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net are working to raise 10,000 meals at this year’s Farm Science Review. For each $4 donated, a FSR attendee will get to add a scaled-down bushel of corn to a container with the goal of donating funds for 10,000 meals for $2,500.

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Weather worth watching in the winter ahead

As Farm Science Review approaches each year and the sultry days of summer give way to the crisp mornings of autumn, the desire to start amassing the firewood I have spent the last several months cutting starts to stir within me like the dry fallen leaves in a brisk October breeze. And, it seems my wood cutting efforts that began last January will pay off again this year as some sources continue to predict a cold, snowy winter for the region.

The editors of the Farmers’ Almanac recently issued a stern warning, to “brace yourselves” for the winter ahead in the Great Lakes Region.

“Depending on where you live and how much cold and snow you like, we have good news and bad news,” said Peter Geiger, Farmers’ Almanac editor.

According to the 2016 edition, winter will split the country in half with the eastern sections of the country shivering in frigid cold, and the other half predicted to experience milder to more normal winter conditions.

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Five generations of family and one barn

Including my children, five generations of the Reese family have worked and played in the old barn on my parent’s property — that is a lot of pitchforking and hay fort building.

When faced with a decision about the future of this incredible, historic structure, my parents made the decision in 2010 to hire a gifted Amish crew to give it a major makeover for future generations of Reeses to continue to work and play beneath the ancient rafters of this grand old barn. Based on the saw marks on the beams, the style and the roofing material, it has been estimated that the barn was built between 1870 and 1880. Think about how Ohio agriculture has changed since then!

My parents are the third generation of the Reese family to own the farm. My great-grandfather, Pearl Jay Reese, and his wife, Jessie Mae, purchased the farm in 1918. Here is more about the barn from the Hancock Historical Society.

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Ohio Crop Tour recap

Ty Higgins barely gets a chance to catch his breath this time of year as we go from the busy Ohio State Fair straight into the Ohio Crop Tour and then he jumps right back in the passenger seat to ride along on the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour.

It is always interesting every year to see how our Ohio yield numbers compare to the yields found on the Pro Farmer Tour for the state. So, as a review, here is what we found in Ohio last week on the2015 I-75/I-71 Ohio  Crop Tour.

It seems that this year, both in Ohio and around the nation, the final yields will be all about balance. There is no doubt there are disastrous conditions out there. We encountered some extremely poor fields — some of the worst we have ever seen — in northwest Ohio. There were also a tremendous number of unplanted fields in the region.

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Field signs pay tribute to Brian Myers

This summer you may see some unusual field signs when traveling rural roadways in northwest Ohio.  Here’s why.

In June, 20-year-old Brian Myers from Paulding County was tragically killed in a car accident.  He was serving as an intern for AgriGold in northwest Ohio and was attending The Ohio State University.

Brian was known for being enthusiastic about AgriGold and agriculture. As a tribute to Brian, all of the current interns gathered earlier this week with help from other AgriGold employees, Brian’s family, and staff members at Pond Seed Company to prepare and put up field signs in Brian’s territory — a task Brian had been assigned for the summer. The group replaced the typical hybrid information on the signs with an unusual, but fitting, tag line.

“Our tag line is ‘WE KNOW CORN’ and we changed it to ‘BRIAN KNOWS CORN.’ His family came in for a ceremony and we put stickers on signs together.

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Rain, rain, go away

Nearly every USDA NASS rainfall checkpoint in the state of Ohio is in the plus category for rainfall totals since April 1, and the rains keep coming. Van Wert is leading the state in rainfall totals with a staggering 28.24 inches of rain since April 1 which puts the location more than 15 inches of rain above normal. Those totals were compiled before another series of heavy rains early this week.

The most recent round of rains put down in excess of five inches in some areas following an ominous orange-looking sky and severe thunderstorms. A Fairfield County farmer reported three inches of rain falling in less than a half hour from the downpour. Some areas experienced strong winds and hail as well from the strong front that turned daylight into night as it moved through on Monday.

The big rains once again swamped soggy crop fields, flooded roadways and thwarted any attempts to make hay.

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Awkward football interview offers perspective on Ohio’s great ag spokespeople

There has been quite a stir in the world of college football lately about a painfully awkward interview between ESPN’s Colin Cowherd and recently hired M*ch*gan head football coach Jim Harbaugh.

On the day of the now notorious interview I was driving around western Ohio with Ty Higgins doing several story visits and we listened to the Harbaugh interview intently in the car. At first, when I heard that the new M*ch*gan coach was on, I immediately conjured up those wonderful crisp fall football Saturdays and the pure joy of watching the Buckeyes clobber the team from up north. Hopefully this experienced coach can help refuel the greatest rivalry in the sport (in a string of very painful and dramatic M*ch*gan losses, of course).

The interview got off to a slow start, though, and I was soon thinking less of fall football victories and more about the painful experience of the increasingly hard-to-listen-to interview.

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A Century Farm perspective better than reality television

I look forward to them every year — the stories from visits to Ohio Century Farms.

In my estimation, taking a couple of hours to step back in time to the earliest days of Ohio agriculture is time vastly better spent compared to watching any reality television, soap opera or televised sporting event that can be conjured up. And, the stories are real — not a statement that applies to reality television.

Seriously, there could be some really good “based upon actual events” movies made from Century Farm stories that were instrumental in shaping the state’s top economic driver today. The stories of these seldom-noticed gems of Ohio history are sitting right under our noses and are vastly more entertaining, informative and incredible than the most dynamic sporting matchup or even a hotly debated interview with a man who decided he wanted to be a lady.

The Ohio Century Farm program started in 1993 as a joint effort between the Ohio History Connection, Ohio’s Country Journal and the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

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How do your fields line up with planting by the moon?

Imagine how much things have changed in agriculture since the soils of Ohio were first planted to crops. Then, the farmers could not rely upon huge databases, satellite guidance or decades of replicated yield plots to make their farming decisions. They had to rely upon their personal experience and trial and error. It is no wonder that planting by the phase of the moon via information from almanacs was so common for so long.

Though not even an afterthought for most modern farmers, generations gone by have put a great deal of stock in planting by the phase of the moon. In response to several questions we have gotten and conversations we have had on the subject, I wrote a bit about planting by the phase of the moon a few weeks ago with a promise to follow up after the planting season.

With corn and soybean planting season wrapped up in Ohio, it is time to take a look at how farmers in the state fared with regard to planting in the ideal phase of the moon.

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Don’t hog the road, driving can be a real bear in Ohio

It was a week of high adventure on the highways of Ohio.

Early in the week a semi hauling 2,200 piglets crashed on U.S. 35 near Xenia in Greene County. The highway was closed for eight hours after the accident. Piglets scattered in every direction, including the nearby wooded areas. Authorities guess that around 1,100 were killed and the remaining 1,100 were rounded up in a monumental pig scramble for the ages.

Then on Wednesday a story came out about a Fairfield County man who spotted a young, endangered black bear lying dead on the side of the road on US 33 outside of Sugar Grove, not too far from my house. The 160-pound bear was apparently the victim of a hit and run accident.

ODNR’s 2014 Black Bear Report found that bear sightings in the state were down from the previous year with 135 sightings compared to 158 in 2013.

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