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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.”


Consumer food choice eroding away in the name of consumer food choice

In this country we continue to see consumer food choice being eroded away in the name of consumer food choice. Here is an example that recently came through my inbox that shows how this is happening.

I got an email asking for my support of the Real Food Challenge. The program is directed at college students and community leaders to encourage them to push for the local college or university to shift a portion of their food use to “Real Food.”

Here is more from the email directed to those associated with The Ohio State University:

The Real Food Challenge is a national initiative to encourage universities and other institutions to buy more food from local sources. Students at OSU are very involved locally in reaching out to the university. If you think the organization you represent might be interested in signing on to the attached letter to OSU President Michael Drake, and if you have any questions, please contact…”

Now, so far this sounds very reasonable.… Continue reading

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A water rule by a different name

A rule that was once called WOTUS,

Crafted by an Agency of POTUS,

Does it sound much more cool as the Clean Water Rule?

Has the EPA gone and snowed us?

Now everything’s all in a muddle

Ag and the EPA in a scuffle,

‘Cause the water rule’s a dud, ‘bout as clear as mud,

Who’d have thunk tryin’ to govern a puddle?

You can take a donkey and call it a horse,

And some fool will believe you of course,

But let’s not be fooled by this Clean Water Rule,

And let them pass this ass for a horse.

First, let me say that my recent trip to Washington, D.C. reaffirmed my general belief that most people who work for the government do so because they truly want to help. I think that holds true for the folks at the oft-criticized Environmental Protection Agency as well. They just want to help and do what they think is right, generally speaking.… Continue reading

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Welcome to spring weather

I coach my son’s U6 soccer team and the practices and games are all outdoors so we are at the mercy of the wildly changing Ohio spring weather. If the weather for the day starts out bad I start getting texts and calls from parents before noon asking if the 6:00 p.m. practice will be cancelled. Don’t they know that we live in Ohio and can have snow in the a.m. and sunny and 65 degrees in the p.m.?

Once, I caved to parental pressure on a gray rainy mid-afternoon and cancelled practice early only to find that idyllic conditions prevailed by practice time. All the other coaches made fun of me while their teams practiced beneath sunshine and blue skies and my team’s practice field sat unused.

Such is the case with spring in Ohio and it appears that the weather will keep soccer coaches and farmers guessing over the next few weeks.… Continue reading

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No spreading manure on frozen ground!

They say I should not apply manure in the snow,

And they’re writin’ up legislation to make sure that I know.

And I’ll do my part, take it to heart, to get cleaner water, that’s for sure,

But of geese and politicians, who spreads the most manure?

So when there’s too much P in the water, and the politicians scowl,

Should they be crying “FARMER!” or should we be crying fowl?

 

 

 

 … Continue reading

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The equation for improving water quality

In just one short presentation at the Conservation Tillage and Technology Conference in Ada, Newell Kitchen provided a great example that illustrates the complexities of the vexing water quality issues in Ohio agriculture.

Kitchen is with the USDA-ARS Cropping Systems and Water Quality Research Unit. Over the last two decades he has worked to address a challenge that has torn down civilizations for thousands of years — soil erosion.

“Civilizations didn’t so much collapse as they consumed themselves,” he said. “How do we get away from treating soils as consumable? When erosion consumes 1.5 inches of topsoil it takes 300 to 400 years to replace that soil if it is under grass. Erosion is still unfortunately a very active process on the agricultural landscape and it needs to be addressed. Sometimes we think a little erosion is not going to matter in the long run, but it does matter.”

To make matters worse, soil erosion also contributes significantly to problems with water quality.… Continue reading

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Farm Machinery Show Valentine

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I know I can be a burden around this time of year,

Because the ground is frozen and winter time is here.

I’ve got all my shop work caught up, and it’s too to cold to be out today,

And when I spend my days in the house I just end up in your way.

So my gift to you my darling, is that I’ll just go

With a bunch of buddies to Louisville for the Farm Machinery Show.

I simply love you too much dear to give a simple rose,

Or chocolates, or candy or lingerie or a pedicure for your toes.

You are wonderful in every way, and deserve some time to relax on your own,

You can read a book or take a nap or talk to a friend on the phone.

You could cuddle on the couch with me, but now you won’t have to hear me snore,

And you can wear the “I Luv my Hubby” t-shirt I got you the year before.… Continue reading

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Is it GMO verses organic? Or is it just food?

What if customers don’t want to be educated about their food?

Generations ago, pretty much everyone understood (at least generally) the origins of the food they ate. If they didn’t produce it themselves, they probably knew someone who did and how the process worked. Since then, things have obviously changed.

As our society has progressed, people are increasingly removed from the life and death of food. Why is that? Could it be that people really don’t want to know that their hamburger was walking around just a few weeks earlier? Could it be that they do not want to think about the fact that many plants gave their very lives for their salads? All in all, these sentiments may be wholly unappetizing, and such grim realities can stand in the way of an otherwise pleasant dining experience. Whether right or wrong, that is a sentiment that exists.

Maybe the growing lack of understanding and interest in the details the food supply over the last few generations is much more intentional than we often seem to think.… Continue reading

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Perception is reality when it comes to water quality and agriculture

Perception is reality.

Those involved with agriculture have long known this — people smell with their eyes, support family farms but hate factory farms, and oppose GMOs even though they do not know what they are. These perceptions translate into realities for agriculture.

The ongoing public debate concerning water quality is laden with perceptions, misperceptions and plain old confusion, even more so than some of the other issues in agriculture. In the case of genetic modification, for example, the crops are among the most tested food ingredients in the history of mankind with no proven ill effects, yet the perception that they are bad and/or unhealthy persists. Even with science clearly on the side of genetically modified crops, perception continues to trump it. Amazing.

Now consider the power of perception in the water quality debate, where there simply is no definitive science able to clearly quantify the factors involved in causing the problem.… Continue reading

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Bikini tractor races, agriculture and “The Bachelor”

The ladies at the office are abuzz about the new bachelor. And, by bachelor, I mean “The Bachelor” on a television show where ladies vie for the affection of (and a marriage proposal from) a desirable guy. While apparently the announcement of the new Bachelor is always significant for fans of the show, the big agricultural news this time around is that the man in question is Iowa farmer Chris Soules. His family farms several thousand acres with a fleet of red equipment, from what I’m told. He works in real estate along with his duties on the farm. I have also been informed that he is quite handsome.

The online description for the show is: “man chooses from a group of women.” That pretty well sums it up, but here is more from the show’s website:

“Millions of single women had mixed emotions when Chris Soules, the stylish farmer from Iowa, was sent home by Andi Dorfman on The Bachelorette.… Continue reading

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Woolly bears and the winter weather

At a recent family gathering one of my uncles asked me about fuzzy caterpillars and their supposed ability to predict the winter weather. He asked because he had noticed a general lack of caterpillars on and around his northwest Ohio farm last fall.

At the time, I admitted my lack of knowledge regarding caterpillar winter lore, but offered to look into it. While I still don’t know what the absence of wooly worms in northwest Ohio last fall will mean for the weeks of winter weather ahead, it was interesting to learn about the lore. Here is what I found out. And — don’t worry — it was all on the Internet, so it must be true.

The caterpillar in question is the woolly bear that anyone who frequents rural Ohio in the fall has surely encountered. It is very fuzzy with black bands at both ends and a reddish, rust colored band in the center.… Continue reading

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Top stories of 2014

Our web site (ocj.com) keeps track of the stories that generate the most interest. We like to review the top stories for the year 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 “2014 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 2014 included the Ohio and Pro Farmer crop tours, the Ohio State Fair livestock show results, Section 179, and the Ohio FFA Convention. All things draft horse related, the devastation of PEDv and the numerous weather challenges during the year also garnered major web traffic in the last 12 months.… Continue reading

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Trapping Santa seems ill advised

The holiday sprit has settled in at the Reese house. Cookies are in the oven, the Christmas tree is decorated and Christmas music fills the air. Everyone celebrates Christmas in their own special way, though, and our son has taken a somewhat unusual tactic to commemorate the season of giving.

Upon walking into our son’s room the other night, I ran into a series of trip wires, a strategically placed stuffed animal and a fair stick precariously positioned over the doorknob and below the light switch. Before I could even guess what was going on, the five-year-old asked, “Daddy can we get a net?”

With further explanation, I figured out what was going on. The fair stick (which needed some further tweaking to be effective) was supposed to trip the switch to turn on the ceiling fan when the door is opened, which then spins to pull a series of jump ropes, pieces of baler twine and bungee cords that disengage a strategically placed net on the ceiling.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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