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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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Farmers do business with a huge corporation

There is no doubt that farmers are becoming more productive and that is because they are doing big business with a big company.

With this one humongous company’s help, farmers are more efficient. This company helps farmers grow a bigger crop and do it on fewer acres with fewer chemicals and limited trips over the field.

Farmers pay loads of money to have these products as part of their operation. It helps them better manage what they do and it keeps track of everyone around them to make their system work as a whole.

It may sound like this company and their products are making our world better, but some critics would say this company and what they are selling to farmers will lead to this world’s demise. Does this big corporation force their products on farmers and punish them for not using what they have to offer? It might be a good idea to ask the same question back to you and many of your friends and neighbors too, because the company I am referring to is Apple.

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Ohio State Fair to add new draft horse classes

Be sure to check out the Ohio State Fair Draft Horse and Draft Pony Show Aug. 3-7, 2015. Draft horses and ponies from all across the country will visit Ohio to compete in classes throughout the week.

In addition to the traditional halter and hitch classes, two new classes will be held. A new class will be held on Wednesday night of the show for pleasure driving horses. During the halter portion of the show, a supreme halter champion will be chosen from among the draft horses this year.

Watching the draft horse and pony show is always a fun and exciting way to take a break from walking the fairgrounds and cool off. Make sure you visit the Coliseum to see these horse in action during the fair.

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A not-so-scenic drive around northwest Ohio

Throughout the 2015 growing season, we have heard about the challenges farmers are dealing with when it comes to disease and pest pressures, the unforgiving onslaught of thunderstorm after thunderstorm and what seems to be endless amounts of rain flooding out would-be flourishing corn and bean fields across Ohio.

The weekly crop progress reports have pegged the northwest part of Ohio as the spot that was getting the brunt of the punishing weather and I have heard from farmers in that area about how bad things were. But, it wasn’t until a trip to that part of the state on July 21st that I truly understood the breadth of the unfortunate situation.

I considered this a warmup to what is yet to come for my trips on the Ohio and Pro Farmer Crop Tours. Here are just some of the pictures that were collected during our recent drive through Logan, Auglaize, Allen and Putnam counties.

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Goat enjoys luxurious long baths

This past spring, I spent much time washing a little goat named Sugar. Sugar was new to our little herd at the time, but I got to know her quickly because she developed a skin issue that require regular baths.

Despite the fact that these baths took place in the house in a utility sink using warm water, Sugar was never to sure that she liked getting wet. After showing her initial displeasure at being wet though, this funny little goat would sit down in the sink and let me soap her up and scrub her.

The baths were lengthy as the special soap had to stay on her wet skin for about 10 minutes, but Sugar never seemed to mind. She always sat quietly while I made sure the soap covered every nook and cranny of her body. She seemed to enjoy spending time in the sink.

Goats never cease to entertain me.

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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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Easy homemade hay-saving small livestock hay feeders

Hay waste has been a constant problem for me through the years. I love my goats, but they waste much hay. In the past, I have tried all kinds of hay feeders, but nothing has worked until we tried this most recent version.

I didn’t come up with the design on my own, we modified a design that goat breeders shared on a goat Facebook page. The concept couldn’t be more simple, and it was very easy to make.

List of supplies needed: Plywood, 2×4’s and some screws.

List of tools needed: A drill, a pencil, and saws (a circular saw and a jigsaw work best).

Cut a piece of plywood to the width and length you want the feeder to be. Cut another piece of plywood to serve as the bottom of the feeder. It should be about 4.5 inches wide and the length of the width of your larger plywood.

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Liberty Barn Dance at Malabar Farm

Malabar Farm will host the Liberty Barn Dance on July 4, 2015 from 7 to 10 p.m.

This dance takes place inside a historic barn at the Farm and is fun for all ages. Beginner friendly square, line and round dances are sure to bring entertainment and enjoyment for the entire family.

Live music and a live caller add to the fun. The price of admission is $1 per person. There is also food available.

If you’re looking for a fun activity for the entire family during the upcoming holiday weekend, make plans to attend the Liberty Barn Dance at Malabar Farm.

For more information go, to http://www.malabarfarm.org/events/204-liberty-barn-dance.

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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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An Anthem for Agriculture

What would your theme song be? The Ohio State Buckeyes have “Across the Field” and “Buckeye Battle Cry” to get fired up to and “We Are The Champions” and “Don’t Stop Believing” are always very popular songs to the blood pumping at various sporting events. These songs are used to motivate, intimidate and eliminate the competition.

When it comes to Agriculture, we all find ourselves needing a kick in the butt every once in a while. Granted, we love what we do and we wouldn’t want to do anything else, but sometimes that 4 o’clock alarm comes way too soon and way too often. Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up, stumble to the kitchen for that cup of java and have a song blaring just for you to get you out that door for another long day of hard work?

Country music is one of my true passions. It is part of my background, my heritage and my career and there are many songs to choose from in Country music that you may consider your Anthem.

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Activities to enjoy in Ohio’s Amish Country

Often it is hard to find the time to take a vacation with the busy lives that we all live. Work and home obligations can sometimes make it difficult to go very far away, but don’t worry — Ohio has many fun activities and places to visit that are close to home.

For my husband and I, we like to visit Holmes County and the surrounding area. We can make the drive in less than two hours so we don’t even have to carve out a weekend to make the trip. We can spend the day exploring the area and then sleep in the comfort of our own bed that night.

Holmes County is of course famous for being Ohio’s Amish Country, but there are all kinds of fun activities and places to see while visiting the area and not all of them involve Amish businesses, but many do.

In preparation for our summer day trip to the Holmes County area (actually it may take more than one), I made a list of things I would like to do when we visit Ohio’s Amish Country.

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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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Hay farmers don’t need to visit a casino to gamble

No matter what crops they raise, all farmers are dependent on the weather to make a living. Planting and harvesting both have to be done in a timely manner within a fairly narrow period of time and sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t want to cooperate.

Unpredictable weather is a problem that all farmers face, but lately I have been feeling particularly sympathetic toward hay farmers. Rain can often be a blessing for farmers, but some of the recent rains have been a thorn in the side of some local hay farmers as they are constantly are faced with the gamble of whether or not the weather will stay dry enough to bale hay.

Just last week I was taking a drive through Knox County when I saw first hand several hay farmers that had gambled on no rain and lost. An unpredicted rain pounded down on their freshly mowed hay fields. We all have witnessed rain falling from the sky on days when no rain was predicted; normally that rain is only a slight inconvenience, but it was a pretty large problem for these farmers with mowed hay fields.

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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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Undeniable goat cuteness

There’s really no denying it. Baby goats are cute. They love to bounce and play and create all sorts of havoc.

For this week’s blog, I’m not going to write anything; I’m just going to let you watch the adorable baby goat cuteness in action in the video below.

Enjoy it and share it with your friends.

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I like my barn cats very much, and I appreciate the great job they do of keeping vermin out of my barn, but I like to keep their numbers in check. I’m a big fan of spaying and neutering barn cats and all of my cats have had these surgeries.

Last fall, three kittens showed up in my barn. They were obviously just weaned from their mother. These little critters were cute, but also really wild.

The kittens decided to make my barn their home, and I spent all winter and early spring trying to tame them down enough that I could catch them so they could also be spayed or neutered.

As luck would have it, one week before their scheduled surgeries, one of the kittens that had now grown into a juvenile cat gave birth to three kittens. Uh oh.

The kittens are cute, but I don’t need more mouths to feed.

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Stories live on after a friend is gone


We were very sad to hear about our friend and co-worker Kirby Hidy passing away this weekend. Anyone who knew Kirby knew that he loved to share stories. His love of story telling made its way into the OCJ a few times when he wrote some guest columns. Kirby will be missed, but his many great stories will live on for all who knew him. Here is one of my favorites, originally published in December of 2011.

2186b87The Christmas pony

By Kirby Hidy

I was about four years old when I sat on my first horse. Mom and Dad took my brother and me to a local rodeo and horse show. An uncle and several other local cowboys and cowgirls competed in various events from rough stock to wild cow milking (my uncle’s event) to various pleasure horse and youth classes.

As my family and I walked around the grounds, I was fascinated by the horses and, as far as I was concerned, REAL LIVE COWBOYS!

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