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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.”


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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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Tall drink of misinformation: The murky mistruths of water

Water is directly responsible for millions of deaths every year. Water is in the system of every person who has died from cancer. Water, mixed with sodium, is toxic for many types of plants. Ingesting water can be fatal within minutes for young children. Evil world dictators are universally linked with water consumption. Water can be found within a quarter mile of all bee hive losses. With the proper spin, omission and phrasing, it is possible to use facts that make just about anything sound scary. Despite these unsettling facts, there will not likely be any efforts launched for a nationwide label on all products that have any association with contamination from water. None of the above statements about water are in any way untrue, but because everyone has first-hand experience with water every day, they know better. There is significant potential for the generation of fear, however, when spin-laden scare tactics are applied to things people are less familiar with, including genetic modification, pesticides and large farms.… Continue reading

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Enjoy a delicious burrito without the side dish of ag negativity

I confess. I really enjoy Chipotle (hence forth referred to as Chi___le) burritos. What can I say? They are pretty darn tasty, but with that said, enough is enough.

With each round of anti-agriculture, negative advertisements, my stomach soured a bit more for the Mexican restaurant giant in spite of those tasty salsa options and sautéed veggies. The last set of ridiculous videos they released finally sealed the deal for me — no more Chi___le.

I have talked with others in agriculture who share the same dilemma. Though I will not name any names, I know of those who try to hide the Chi___le wrappers in the bottom of the trashcan of their farm shop or make lonely trips after twilight so no one notices their farm truck in the parking lot. I even know one Ohio agriculture VIP who sends his children to get the burritos for him. By doing so, he can honestly say he does not personally support the business if his kids buy the food.… Continue reading

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Honoring a century of service

This spring, my family had the honor of celebrating the 95th birthday of my grandfather, Frank Deeds. Much has been said about his generation that has seen agriculture go from horses, to horsepower to satellite guidance in one amazing lifetime. He endured the Great Depression and survived service to our country in World War II. He farmed, taught agriculture and served as an FFA advisor for many years. He educated a generation of students, helping them to be better farmers and, more importantly, better people. He worked tirelessly (and successfully) to provide a better life for his children and grandchildren.

With folks like my grandpa and so many others from his generation serving as role models and examples, it should make us all pause for a moment to appreciate what we have today and how we got here. Grandpa’s generation changed the world in ways that were previously unimaginable, even though we may not always take notice.… Continue reading

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The turkey and the crows

I recently found myself clad in camouflage, nestled motionless among briars, crawling ticks and mounds of poison ivy when I embarked on my first turkey hunting expedition.

We were hunting on a beautiful, hilly, hay and pasture covered farm in Harrison County. We tent camped for two nights and the weather was generally rainy and cold despite the mid-May calendar date. (It is a bad sign when you see the farm owner covering her garden plants with blankets headed into evening when you are tent camping outside.)

I never saw a turkey, but despite the general unpleasantness of the weather, ticks, briars and poison ivy, it was still a wonderful experience. We cooked our food over a campfire and shared many stories of the turkeys we thought we might have heard crying out from the depths of the wooded hollows. One person in our group, an experienced turkey hunter, got a large gobbler.… Continue reading

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Vigilance required this year for clean fields in the future

While my four-year-old son is a notorious dinner table food waster, there are some notable exceptions. He loves berries. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries or blueberries — he loves them all. He especially loves to slather them in homemade whipped cream in a berry parfait. In a “no berry left behind” policy, he is consistently a berry parfait “clean plater.” With great tenacity he seeks out every last berry until they are all devoured.

A similar “clean fielder” approach appears to be a necessity this growing season for farmers dealing with the notorious palmer amaranth outbreaks that are springing up in crop fields around the state. When it comes to this problematic weed, they need to be as scarce as a berry parfait on our table after dinner to prevent years of future weed problems.

OSU Extension weed control specialist Mark Loux emphasized this point in this week’s CORN Newsletter after some troubling findings in Ohio fields already this season.… Continue reading

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Oil storage rules changing again (or are they?)

Even though we are typically in close agreement on most parenting strategies when it comes to our two young children, differences in the details of the rules my wife and I set from day to day are not uncommon.

“Brush your teeth…”

“But Mommy said we could read a book first and THEN brush our teeth…”

“No ice cream tonight after dinner…”

“But Daddy promised we could have ice cream with chocolate if we ate all of our food…”

While neither of us would argue that the other is wrong about the proper order of book reading and tooth brushing, it can be a bit confusing when different rules from different parties are being issued. Timelines can change and details may differ but when in doubt, I strongly advise my children to “do what Mommy says.”

I feel like farmers are experiencing a similarly confusing situation with the wishy-washy details and timelines of the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) rule from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).… Continue reading

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Will April showers bring the EPA?

When puddles form in the yard,

I now get frustrated,

Because if we let down our guard,

That water will be regulated.

Ditches, and springs, and puddles,

Are a source for great alarm,

If the Clean Water Act is muddled,

To further regulate your farm.

April showers bring May flowers,

That’s what they’d always say,

But now I fear when it rains for hours,

I’ll get the EPA.

The Clean Water Act started in 1972 as a way to control water pollution from a single source in navigable waters without a federal permit. The proposed rule will expand the scope of “navigable waters” subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction by regulating ditches, small and remote “waters” and ephemeral drains where water moves only when it rains. The EPA proposed rule changes are open to public comment through July 21 by visiting the website at http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/guidance/wetlands/CWAwaters.cfm, or through the American Farm Bureau at: http://capwiz.com/afb/issues/alert/?alertid=63192396.… Continue reading

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GMO-free fails to boost Cheerio sales

Amid great fanfare and celebrating, General Mills boldly announced early this year that their flagship cereal, Cheerios, was going to be produced without genetically modified ingredients. From the clamor that it created, one would envision consumers rejoicing in the streets and celebrating heartily by cracking open new boxes of GMO-free Cheerios by the millions.

Then it seemed that all was going well for anti-GMO efforts when, soon after, Grape-Nuts made a similar announcement. The revolution had begun — more rejoicing and fanfare.

Media outlets pretty much everywhere (including the OCJ) covered these announcements for what looked like a social foodie consumer-driven sea change in the big food industry. It appeared that change was inevitable as General Mills tried the GMO-free marketing ploy.

Except, though, once the initial buzz died down, there really was not that much of a revolution. The excitement of dancing in the streets and consumer choice celebrations faded into the much more benign practice of buying generic “toasted oat rings” in the grocery aisle because they were 27 cents cheaper.… Continue reading

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Fourteen cents of insight on the BLM cattle roundup, shootout and desert tortoise debate

In a desolate landscape that is probably most widely thought of for its use as a former government nuclear testing site, national attention is being focused on the ranch of Cliven Bundy, a 67-year-old rancher in the Nevada desert. The Bundy family has been on the land since the late 1800s.

Bundy owes more than $1 million in fees to the government that have accrued for more than 20 years since the oft-maligned government goliath Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) changed the land use rules at least part in an attempt to benefit the endangered desert tortoise. In response to the mounting fees Bundy owed, the government decided it was time for a good old-fashioned roundup to take possession of the cattle.

The BLM started the process of rounding up Bundy’s 900 cattle roaming 600,000 acres of public lands that almost led to an Old West style shootout between armed militia members and BLM agents, grabbing headlines around the country.… Continue reading

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Is a barn owl box worthwhile?

When I was growing up, we had a few ducks that stopped by the old farm pond outside of our old farmhouse as they were passing through. They never stayed too long, but one morning I noticed that there was a duck or two missing from the group.

I asked my dad about this and he speculated that the missing waterfowl had fallen victim to a great horned owl that kept a nightly watch over the farm from a perch in an ancient oak tree. Though this giant bird of prey was seldom heard and rarely seen, there was ample evidence of its presence with the absence of missing chickens, barn cats and other creatures on the farm that disappeared in the night.

Since then, owls and their mysterious habits have fascinated me. The recent story from OCJ field reporter Mike Ryan re-inspired me to look into the possibility of adding a barn owl box to our property.… Continue reading

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Tofu, Wagyu and interested Ohioans at Mitsuwa Marketplace

Tofu or not tofu? That was the question for several Ohio food grade soybean growers on a recent trip to House Foods in New Jersey where they were invited to taste the fruits of their labor.

Several of the farmers in attendance circled a couple of times and warily eyed the tofu offerings — a plain silky (or extra soft) tofu and a cabbage salad with seasoned tofu cubes — served along with a diverse lunch spread in the tidy meeting room at House Foods.

When thinking about traditional Ohio farm foods, tofu does not typically make the list. But, in many ways, I learned on this trip that tofu is as much of a genuine farm food as sweet corn, meat, or fresh garden tomatoes that serve as more traditional Ohio farm meal fare.

This group of northeast Ohio farmers produces the high quality food grade soybeans that are trucked to the House Foods plant in New Jersey where they are processed into tofu.… Continue reading

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Is a spring wedding bridesmaid-cicle a predictor of a late planting season?

The last of the four Reese brothers is married.

We were getting ready for my brother Jeff’s wedding last week in northwest Ohio, hoping for a bit of pleasant early spring weather. Friday March 21 was the first full day of spring and we were scrambling to get everything ready for the big event the next day. When I got up Friday morning, though, I was greeted with an unfortunate coating of snow outside.

The afternoon temperatures warmed into the 50s, which was nice and we were hoping for more of the same on Saturday for the wedding. It was at a beautiful church in Findlay and there were many opportunities for wonderful outdoor photos. The northwest winds howled, however, and sent the mercury falling. Teeth chattered and there were almost some bridesmaid-cicles as we stood outside in the bitter wind for extended photo sessions. (I will point out that the Reese gentlemen did let the girls wear our coats whenever possible.)

Winter’s chill is still holding strong as we close in on April.… Continue reading

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Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should

“Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

I routinely have to dispatch this advice (or any number of variations) to my four-year-old son in response to the many questions he asks throughout the course of a day.

“Can I put my meat into my glass of milk?”

“Can we build a moving drawbridge to the hay fort for the barn cats?”

“Can I hook a bungee cord up to the dog and my sister?”

“Can I put orange juice on my cereal?”

“Can I put orange juice on my waffle?”

“Can I eat this play dough?”

“Can I get permanent markers out of mommy’s cabinet?”

“Can I take my toy combine to church?”

“Can I wear my tractor shirt to church?”

“Can I ride the sheep dog?”

“Can I ride the ram?”

This list questions could go on for several pages, but you get the point. There are plenty of things that we can do, though there are often numerous reasons that we should not do them.… Continue reading

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Historically noteworthy winter still hanging on as planting time approaches

My formerly grand woodpile has been nearing its end since the calendar switched over to March, which was by design. I want to run out by mid-March or so and put winter behind me. By this time of year, my wife and I have grown weary of the late nights and early mornings of keeping the fire going in the wood burner, and I am ready to switch gears as the weather warms. Winter, apparently, has other plans.

The bitterly cold temperatures that continue to hang around, however, have wiped out my wood supply a bit sooner than the end of the cold weather. Without a doubt, the winter was a rough one.

“Winter will go down as much colder than normal with above normal snowfall and slightly above normal precipitation. Temperatures across Ohio for winter will end averaging 3 to 9 degrees below normal from southeast to northwest. Precipitation will average 100% to 125% of normal,” said Jim Noel, with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service.… Continue reading

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