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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.”


Should we legislate the rain?

First, the larger view and philosophies of HB 490 make quite a bit of sense. There is no argument there and that is why the legislation has general support from agriculture. Politically, many feel more needs to be done by agriculture to improve water quality in Lake Erie. HB 490 seems like a reasonable response from a proactive Ohio agriculture.

On the other hand, any time factors like weather, soil, nutrients, and water are a part of legislation, a broad brush is often used to cover the small details that really matter when it comes to complex challenges such as water quality. It also should be noted that the principles of HB 490 rely heavily on tried and true conservation practices that have been used in the past, which is when the problem with water quality got its start. This is a problem that demands change and a new way of looking at things based upon answers to questions that are not yet known.

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Heritage breed tied to a bit of Ohio history

Laura Haggarty can remember from childhood her grandfather handing out buckeyes from the tree on his farm to everyone he met. After he passed away, they found a buckeye or two in every one of his pockets.

Years later, Haggarty recalled this fond memory of her grandfather when she first heard about the Buckeye chicken. Ever since then, even though she now resides in northern Kentucky, the Buckeye has been close to her heart.

“I have worked with 17 breeds of chickens and Buckeyes are all I have now. They are just the best all around homestead bird. They are a true dual-purpose bird for eggs and meat and they are hearty. They forage well and eat anything that moves,” said Haggarty, who now serves as the treasurer for the American Buckeye Poultry Club. “When I started with Buckeyes, there were only around 500 birds left and now there are more than 5,000 due to the efforts of the Livestock Conservancy.

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Agriculture helping to fight hunger in Ohio

In the classic book, “The Yearling,” a boy befriends a deer fawn that he wants to keep as a pet on his family’s small southern farm. His father is reluctant, but eventually allows it, providing the deer does not hurt the crops. Well, as expected, the deer does significant damage to the crops that are vital for the family’s food supply and winter survival. The deer must go. The upset boy runs away and discovers the powerful pangs of hunger that drive him back home to the farm with a hard and painful lesson learned. Hunger — real hunger, not the “I’ve been working all day and I’m starving” kind of hunger we have all experienced — is crippling and all consuming. There is not much else that matters when you, or your children, are hungry.

Just like the young boy who picked a deer for a pet over the success of the crops, we are a society that takes food for granted.

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Ohio’s Patriot Guard Riders honoring fallen heroes

On this Veteran’s Day, it may be hard to imagine that anything other than respect and dignity would purposefully take place at a military funeral. But, unfortunately, such events have been plagued by protests and other challenges in the past that put an already grieving military family through more suffering.

In response, the Patriot Guard Riders — a volunteer, federally registered non-profit organization — was formed to ensure dignity and respect at memorial services honoring fallen military heroes, first responders and honorably discharged veterans. Jim Michael is a volunteer Patriot Guard Rider in Lima and travels Ohio on his motorcycle with mounted flags to honor those who lived and died serving others.

“I travel to missions from the Toledo area to Cincinnati, depending on what is needed. It is a really rewarding experience,” Michael said.  “When I am out on a mission, I always try to have the U.S. flag in the center, and I often have an MIA POW flag on one side and a flag from whatever branch of the service they were in on the other side.”

The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse group of volunteers from across the nation — many do not even have motorcycles.

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2014 Farm and Fair Photo Contest results

With the end of the Fairfield County Fair in October, the 2014 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 this year with Ohio agriculturally-related photos of any kind. The contest ended Oct. 30. To see the entries, click here.

A winner was chosen via online voting based on the total number of votes. The winner will receive a pass for free admission to any Ohio county fair and the Ohio State Fair in 2015. The fair pass is compliments of the Ohio Fair Managers Association.

2 2014 Farm and Fair Photo Contest

 This year’s winner is Nancy Keiser, from Arcanum, who submitted a photo of her granddaughter Katie in the Family Barn with Moe the horse.

 

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Big numbers at National FFA Convention

One can’t help but be inspired by the quality and the hard work of the young people clad in those distinctive jackets who, for a few short days are turning Louisville a bluer hue.

This week’s National FFA Convention will once again transform the city of Louisville into a sea of corduroy as big numbers are expected for the event. The city is prepared for more than 60,000 students, advisors and other visitors for the 2014 National FFA Convention and expects an estimated economic impact of $40 million, with visitors in 136 hotels for a combined 39,247 nights within a 60-mile radius of Louisville. Those sound like some big numbers, but they are well founded based upon past conventions and the steady membership increases in FFA around the country. This last year saw an explosion in FFA membership throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. As of this fall, membership in FFA stands at 610,240 students up from 579,678 in 2013.

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Is the CAUV grass greener?

Anyone with fenced in livestock understands the idiom: the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Such is the case for our Great Pyrenees sheep dog that we have penned up with our sheep. The dog’s name is Clay. He has a pretty nice setup in the barn and pasture with sheep and a donkey to play with endlessly, ample room to run around, a comfy place to curl up and sleep, and plenty of food and fresh water.

Unfortunately for us, the very large dog has the ability to get out through very small places. He is terrified of the electric fence, so that is not an issue. The problem is with the gates in the barn.

We have a swinging gate with a latch to allow easy access to the pen, but even though the bottom of the gate is only a few inches off the ground, he can get out.

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Budweiser Clydesdales a very popular attraction at the 2014 Fairfield County Fair

Whether it has been from a commercial on television or a chance sighting at an event somewhere, there are few people in this country who are not at least vaguely familiar with the impressive and iconic Budweiser Clydesdales.

The tradition of the horses started in 1933 when August A. Busch, Jr. and Adolphus Busch III surprised their father with the gift of a six-horse Clydesdale hitch to commemorate the repeal of Prohibition. They saw the marketing potential of a horse drawn beer wagon and the tradition was born with an initial six-horse hitch drawn through the streets of New York City. The Anheuser-Busch tradition continues today with approximately 250 Clydesdales in the breeding program and teams that make appearances around the country accompanied by their mascot, a Dalmatian named Clyde.

Last week, the Fairfield County Fair hosted the renowned Budweiser Clydesdales. The famous horses have only ever been to a handful of county fairs in the nation.

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Fair rodeo much better than the real thing

It is Fairfield County Fair week for the Reeses — the last (and best in the argument of some) fair in Ohio each year. Sheep shows, guys and gals lead, open cattle show, pee-wee showmanship, and plenty of poultry will dominate the week for our family, along with a healthy dose of autumn fair food and fun. But, amid all of these activities, we try to attend some other fun events at the Fair as well, including the always entertaining combine derby and the rodeo.

Last night we watched brave bull riders, skilled barrel riders and a couple of crazy clowns in what ended up being a very entertaining evening for children and grownups alike. Little did we know that after the conclusion of the rodeo at the Fairfield County Fair, authorities would be involved with a real life cattle roundup in Highland County near Leesburg just a couple of hours later.

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Farm bill calculator has Ohio roots

As the extremely important decision about the Farm Bill programs draws nearer, farmers can take advantage of more tools that are becoming available to help in that decision. And, as is the case for so much at the federal level, Ohio has played an important role in the development of some of these tools.

Anthony Bush, a Morrow County farmer and Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association member, is very interested in the recently released Farm Bill Calculator that allows growers to compare and contrast how the different Title 1 programs in the farm bill will work with their farm numbers and price projections.

The idea for the calculator was created by farmers at the national level while Bush was Chair of the Public Policy Action Team for the National Corn Growers Association.

“I am extremely excited about that calculator. We worked on this for a long time. When I saw this thing in action, I was really impressed and I am glad that producers have this tool available,” Bush said.

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Apple harvest underway

Pumpkin pies are delicious, changing leaves are stunning, and the blue skies with crisp temperatures are great, but delicious homemade applesauce trumps them all in my opinion because it takes your taste buds back to the bounty of autumn harvest all year long. And, glancing in the freezer, I know that autumn is here because the supply of my wife’s homemade applesauce in the freezer is dangerously low. It must be time to pick apples.

In general, Ohio had a pretty good growing season for apples (though most of the state’s peach crop was wiped out by the cold). There were some pockets of apple frost injury with the cool, late spring, but the moderate temperatures and ample moisture around much of Ohio this growing season have led to a fairly large, and high quality crop for many orchards this year. Wet weather can often mean more fungicides, though cool temperatures helped keep diseases in check.

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Food reality, not rhetoric, should drive ag decisions

This summer we had three fluffy little kittens running around in the barn that both of our children adored — Little Stripy, Balderdash and Kitty. One morning when my wife was out doing chores in the barn with the help of our five-year-old son, little Kitty made the very unfortunate decision to hop right beside the dog food bowl while our aging lab-mix was eating. A quick growl and a snap from the grumpy 85-pound dog was all it took to send one kitten flying in multiple directions. It was a gory, but quick, finale for poor little Kitty.

Being around livestock every day, our son was upset about the loss of one of his kittens, but he quickly moved on with life, and apparently a new story to share with friends. A few days later we were driving home from a Cloverbud meeting when my wife got a phone call from a concerned mother.

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Jim’s rainy day

One day a guy named Jim figured out how to control the rain.

He grinned with glee at his newfound power. He figured the world he’d reign.

He set up a business (that for a small fee) could bring you rain or shine.

One week in his business boomed — things were working out fine.

Farmer McGinty needed rain for his corn. Farmer Smith needed some sun.

Betty Lou Harris had just planned a picnic and wanted guaranteed fun.

With a tip of his cap and a wave of his hand, Jim made their wishes come true.

That corn pollinated, the wheat harvest went well and the picnic skies were blue.

More farmers placed more orders. More events were planned.

Jim was making big money — his business going grand.

He could bring on the sun or precipitate, based upon a whim.

To predict what the weather would do, the local weatherman would call Jim.

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Concerned about water quality? Take a gander at the geese

Take a gander at this…

It is a great success story that plays out like a half-century long feel-good movie — the tale of the Canada goose in Ohio. By 1900, the Canada goose had been eliminated from the state of Ohio. In the tradition of white man’s abuse of the abundant natural resources of the land, Canada geese were wiped out from the Buckeye State. In response, the Ohio Division of Wildlife initiated a Canada goose restoration program on state-owned wetland areas in 1956. The effort had fragile beginnings, but by 1979 had proven successful with 18,000 Canada geese nesting in 49 Ohio counties. From there, Ohio’s goose population soared. By 2012, there were nearly 150,000 resident geese in the state and numbers have continued to climb. And, that does not include the migrant birds that are just passing through.

As the population has grown, the story of the goose in Ohio has gone from a feel-good movie to more of a horror picture.

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I-75 group assessed more than corn and soybeans on the Ohio Crop Tour

We really appreciate the sponsorship of Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers and the time of the volunteer farmers on the trip that make the I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour possible and successful. Though the point of the 2014 I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour is to assess corn and soybeans in Ohio, we try to show our appreciation by taking good care of the participants. Being a group with a healthy respect for all aspects of Ohio agriculture, we did our best on the I-75 leg of the Tour to include many of Ohio’s agricultural commodities.

Dairy

What can I say? The I-75 group really loved ice cream. As we passed through Findlay at around 10:45 on the first morning on the Tour, I casually mentioned that we were going to be passing by one of the best ice cream shops in the nation — Dietsch Brothers Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream. The famous ice cream shop has deep roots in Findlay dating back to the 1920s.

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To whom it may concern: Something’s fishy about the Toledo crisis

To those concerned with the water ban in Toledo, here are some musings, opinions and thoughts about the water disaster on Ohio’s northern shore that are not for the faint of heart. You have been warned.

To farmers in Ohio

First, you know I love you and I am on your side. But wake up! If this challenge does not wake you up about the importance of doing everything in your power to eliminate the escape of nutrients from your farms, I am not sure what non-legislative-restriction-mandate-law will.

But, you say:

“We are already doing so much to improve…”

“Sewage treatment plants are a huge part of the problem…”

“Look at all the fertilizer people put on their lawns…”

“We are funding measures for more research…”

“We are being more proactive than anyone else…”

Yep, I get it. Those statements are all correct, but they don’t necessarily matter to the people of Toledo.

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Summer planting season

Ohio’s planting season for crops has wrapped up and 2014 harvest is getting closer, but in many ways, summer offers other opportunities to plant seeds. With the children out of schools and attention turned towards 4-H projects and the fair season, seeds for the future of Ohio agriculture are being planted all the time in every corner of the state through the fair season.

Of course, farm kids from all over Ohio have been hard at work in the show ring at this year’s Ohio State Fair and county fairs. To recognize the importance of these efforts, AgriGold Hybrids is sponsoring Ohio Ag Net mid-day coverage at Ohio fairs and donating $1,000 to 10 separate county junior fair boards across the state.

“We know the important role that youth plays in agriculture,” said Kent Miller, with AgriGold Hybrids. “4-Hers completing a project at the fair is the culmination of all of their hard work and is an excellent building block for agriculture.”

Fairs also offer great opportunities for planting the seeds of agriculture with students who are not from a farm.

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Frost watch 2014

Any time a crop gets planted late there are grumblings of the potential disasters that would take place if there is an early killing frost. There has been no shortage of those concerns in 2014.

In addition, cicadas, wives tales, lunar cycles and the neighbor’s meteorologically inclined knee all seem to be pointing to the significant possibility of an early frost this year in late September, compounding the concerns for farmers. The plunging temperatures this week contribute to the conversation as well. So how real are the 2014 early frost watch concerns?

Corn and soybeans are running behind in many parts of Ohio due to late planting and challenging conditions early in the spring. By July 13, 14% of Ohio’s corn crop was silking compared to the 29% five-year average and 22% of soybeans were blooming compared to the 32% five-year average. So, clearly the late crop component of the early frost disaster scenario is plausible.

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Farm life for kids sets the stage for a healthy life

To follow up on my previous post, at least in the summer I am pretty sure “the good old days” were rarely spent inside. This is one of many reasons that growing up on a farm has long been heralded as one of the best ways to spend childhood. Farm life offers the fairly unique opportunity to work and play outdoors with family members on an almost daily basis with a giant “park” right outside your door.

Now, any parent knows that it is not always the easiest option to get their children to go outdoors. Today’s clever television shows, electronic games and gadgets galore and the frosty appeal of air conditioning on a hot summer day are quite inviting for both adults and children. A quick push of the remote control button can keep children entertained for hours with minimal parental stress. It is an easy (and often valuable) fix for busy parents with restless summer children, but there is simply no substitute for time spent outdoors.

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There’s no better place for a kid than outdoors

Rise with the sunshine ready to play,

Then collapse into bed at the end of the day.

Scrapes and bruises, skinned up knees,

Sword fighting with sticks and climbing up trees,

Ride on a horse, spray with the hose,

Giggle at dandelion fuzz up your nose.

Roll pant legs up and through cool puddles wade,

Shut your eyes for a nap in an old oak tree’s shade.

Sandbox castles, kitten scratches,

A few bug bites, poison ivy patches —

So much to see and so much to learn.

Don’t touch that fence and watch the sunburn.

Berry stained fingers and thorn-pricked arms,

Manure on boots, dirt from the barn,

Long hot days of sun, sweat and laughs,

Lead your best lamb, groom your best calf.

Spit watermelon seeds out in the grass,

Enjoy twilight ice cream as lightning bugs flash,

Catch a frog and a fish on a swim in the creek,

Don’t know, and don’t care ‘bout what day of the week.

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