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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.”

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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.… Continue reading

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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.


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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