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2016 draft horse sale dates

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Fireball the one-eyed wonder horse

Every one of us has our own unique physical and mental limitations. Though we may find our weaknesses frustrating, most of us are blessed to have fully functioning bodies; we are not truly handicapped.

That is not the case for Fireball, a very special miniature horse. Though he was born with eyes that operated normally, a year or two-ago he was involved in an accident in his pasture that permanently damaged one of his eyes.

When I first met him, Fireball had become outgrown by his current children and he was looking for a new home. Though he was as sweet and as happy as could be, his left eye was so severely damaged in the accident that he no longer had vision in that eye, plus he looked like he had been possessed by the devil. The poor little guy’s eye looked like a flame of fire.

Although my husband and I do not have children of our own, we are always looking for sweet and calm miniature geldings to add to our driving program, and Fireball’s wonderful disposition and driving skills fit the bill, despite his lack of vision in his left eye.

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A perfect fit

Dylan was sitting in the tractor seat scrolling through photos of beautiful Courtney on his phone and reviewing her text messages.

He had gotten this job at the Christmas tree farm as a favor from the farm owner to his father. At 17-years-old, Dylan didn’t listen to his parents. He didn’t care about his schoolwork. He was sort of interested in football and track, but mostly he didn’t care for much of anything — except for Courtney, and he was supposed to meet her after work that day.

His dad thought Dylan would learn a thing or two about hard work and respect for others with some time spent employed at the Christmas tree farm. So far, though, Dylan’s lackluster work ethic and self-centered nature clearly demonstrated that he was not really interested in this job either.

His thoughts of Courtney were interrupted when the farm owner yelled out from the barn, “Dylan, can you please get off your phone and help Mr.

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Ten reasons why Santa could have been a farmer

10. He takes care of the needs of the world.

9. He covers a lot of ground in a hurry when the pressure is on.

8. He’s used to getting in and out of tight places.

7. His wife is an excellent cook.

6. He could stand to lose a few pounds (see reason #7).

5. He’s good with kids.

4. He works outside, even in bad weather.

3. He knows how to get by with the same equipment season after season.

2. He’s good with livestock.

1. He works all year, just to give his stuff away.

Merry Christmas! -Ty

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Michael had ruined Thanksgiving.

As nine-year-old boys have been known to do, he had thrown a terrible fit after being woken from a nap. By the time his mother walked into the room, she could tell the pleasant Thanksgiving get-together was about to end (at least for her). She calmly picked Michael up as he kicked and screamed and said everything horrible thing he could think up, wrestling his mother all the way to the car seat and making quite a scene in front of the whole family.

With a few more snarls from Michael and another fit about putting on pajamas after getting home, he was tucked into bed in the tiny, tired-looking apartment. His exhausted mother impatiently left the room and said tersely, “Goodnight Michael.”

Michael awoke the next morning feeling incredibly remorseful for his behavior. He was getting too old for that sort of thing, after all.

He could see the dim glow of the morning’s first sun creeping in through the window when suddenly it dawned on him — sheer genius!

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Feral cats — The unwelcomed adventure that became a blessing

Cats are an important element in my barn. I always like to keep between three and five around to keep the vermin numbers under control. My barn cats are all spayed or neutered and well fed, and although I occasionally pet them, they are mostly independent creatures that care more about bringing “presents” in the form of dead rodents to their roommates, my pygmy goats, than they do paying attention to me. That’s fine by me. I hate rodents of all kinds so the arrangement works out nicely.

For nearly 10 years, I kept my cat numbers low and had minimal losses to my cat population. I considered myself lucky none of my cats had disappeared mysteriously and that none had been hit on the road. I was also thankful that no feral cats had found their way to my barn. That all changed in the fall of 2014.

Last fall, three recently weaned feral kittens claimed my barn as their own.

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What facts are really facts?

It can be really hard to know which way to feel about some issues because these days it seems everyone has their own set of “facts” that conclusively proves their point. The problem, of course, is that as soon as you conclusively prove a point, you run into someone else who has an entirely different set of facts that definitively proves their point, which happens to be the opposite view of the first point that was proven. Confused yet? I know I am.

One only has to sit and listen to a political debate on any issue between any candidates of any party to get all caught up in a muddled mess of my-facts-versus-your-facts. Then there is often a behind-the-scenes reporter who does a fact check on the aforementioned facts to clarify the situation. Unfortunately, more often than not, these fact checks often just compound the problem by providing another opportunity to spin the issue with a set of suspect facts about the facts.

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Veterans and an attitude of service

Life is not all about “me.” Life is about serving others — not ourselves — and agriculture has a unique way of teaching this key value.

An attitude of service always seems to be a bit more prevalent in rural agricultural areas (at least to me). The act of caring for the soil, tending to animals and producing products for others on the farm has a way of weaving itself into your moral code and instilling a willingness to serve others.

My wife and I are already trying to use lessons on the farm to teach our young children about the value of service to others. With this in mind, I tried to involve both of our children in the Operation Evergreen program this year. Each year to commemorate Veteran’s Day, veterans come out to our family Christmas tree farm and select trees that will be sent to troops overseas with the hope of providing a bit of holiday cheer so far from home.

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Farm and fair photo contest winner

With the end of the Fairfield County Fair in October, the 2015 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 with Ohio agriculturally-related photos of any kind. The contest ended Oct. 30. To see the entries, click here.

A winner was chosen based on the total number of votes via online voting. The winner will receive a pass for free admission to any Ohio county fair and the Ohio State Fair in 2016. The fair pass is compliments of the Ohio Fair Managers Association.

Farm and Fair Photo Contest Winner copy

This year’s winner is Cathy McKinney from Waynesburg, who submitted this photo with the following caption: Swimsuit — check. Cowboy boots — check. Feeding time — check. Summer on the farm — priceless.

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A possible record white-tail deer taken in Ohio

We all have that buddy that says they saw the biggest buck ever. For all we know all that guy probably saw in the woods on a crisp, fall early morning was the backs of his eyelids.

But for Junction City, Ohio hunter Dan Coffman, this picture is all the proof he needs!

According to FieldAndStream.com, Coffman reportedly harvested one of the largest whitetail deer ever taken by a hunter, which has inadvertently launched a social-media firestorm that has people questioning the deer’s authenticity.

It’s believed that Coffman was hunting in Fairfield County the evening he shot the deer, on October 27th. Rumors about the size and legitimacy of the buck are already scattered across the Internet.

Is the “Coffman Buck” large enough to best Pope & Young’s current world-record non-typical “Beatty Buck” (2000) of 294 inches?

Find out more about it here and good luck topping this one this year.

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Ohio connections to the Capitol Tree

As Thanksgiving approaches, so does the annual tradition of getting in the holiday spirit that accompanies the magical time of year ahead. A couple of Ohio communities have a unique opportunity to get a jump on the Christmas spirit this month as the 2015 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree tours the state.

The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or “The People’s Tree” got its start in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. Since 1970, the U.S. Forest Service has provided a Christmas tree for the prominent location. A tree from a different national forest has been chosen each year. In 1987, Ohio provided a Norway spruce from Wayne-Hoosier National Forest for this purpose. The national forest also works with state forests to provide smaller Christmas trees for offices in Washington, D.C.

While Ohio is not the home of this year’s Capitol Christmas Tree, there are a number of Ohio connections to the tree that will make the trip to the Capitol from its home in Alaska’s Chugach National Forest.

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Drama ensued when prisons pulled pork

Bacon, of course, is delicious, but pork tenderloin is a Reese family staple and one of the most-preferred swine products of choice for most get-togethers. In fact, pork tenderloin was the subject of intense hoopla in a recent Reese family culinary showdown.

My dad makes tasty pork tenderloin — there is no point in denying this. He was making delicious pork on the grill long before I fired up my first outdoor propane burner. But, as my generation ages, my brothers and I feel we each have come into our own when making delicious pork tenderloin, surpassing the elder Reese.

In an attempt to settle the ongoing dispute, there was a three-man pork cook-off last summer at the annual family reunion in Mt. Cory (I was not present this year). In the competition, my brothers Aaron and Jeff took on the more experienced, elder Reese. Those in attendance cast votes.

All reports confirm the three entries were indeed delicious and the event was enjoyable for all involved, but it was not without controversy.

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The connection between bacon and the crime rate

When I first read the headline on our website, “Prisons Pull Pork”, I thought that was a great way to keep the prisoners busy, by having them prepare pork in one of my favorite ways. Then, I realized that they weren’t actually pulling pork for a juicy barbecue sandwich, but getting rid of pork products as a whole from the prison system.

That’s right! Last week, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) decided to remove pork from the menu at its 122 facilities, effective Oct. 1, the start of their new fiscal year.

At first, this might seem like a terrible idea. In fact, The National Pork Producers Council is asking the BOP for a more detailed explanation for their decision to do away with pork products, as it will not only have an small impact on the demand of pork, but more importantly it could set a precedent for other government agencies to follow suit.

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Still farming at 88 with no signs of stopping

It seems like an everyday occurrence that something is unveiled in agriculture that is the next greatest thing. Products that will boost yields, thwart diseases and insects and plant at twice the speed of sound are certainly steps forward in producing enough food, fiber and fuel for our ever-increasing world population.

Although we can never stop thinking about how agriculture needs to look in the future, I believe that some of the greatest assets of our industry have been around for awhile.

Recently, I stopped by a half-harvested soybean field in Shelby County and jumped in a John Deere combine that was being piloted by 88-year old Bernard Clinehens.

Clinehens is a true veteran, not only in the military sense, but also with his 8 plus decades of farming experience. I have always felt that one of the best ways to move agriculture forward is to take a look at the past.

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Turtle tales

After last week’s blog about carving turtle shells, several more turtle tales have been discussed. Here they are.

Late this summer, my son and his two ornery cousins were keenly interested in the turtle traps a local trapper had set in my parents’ farm pond. A few snappers had been seen in previous months and it became apparent that the issue should be addressed.

The four-, six- and seven-year-old boys typically run around their grandparents’ farm with wild abandon and get into every kind of mischief they can find. On that particular day their swath of general boyhood destruction and carefree conduct regularly passed through the area of the turtle traps to check in on the possibility of an apprehended aquatic reptile.

Early that afternoon, a cry of euphoria rang out that could likely be heard in the next township at the discovery that a turtle had indeed been secured.

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Which comes first the KITTEN or the egg?

As you can probably imagine, I have many Facebook friends who, like me, enjoy sharing photos of their critters. Due to the amount of cuteness that constantly clutters my screen through Facebook, it takes a tremendous cute overload to impress me. Recently a Facebook friend of mine, Jeanne Beth Murphy of Glenwood City, Wis., was able to break through my cute filter to impress me with a photo.

Murphy shared this incredibly adorable photo of kittens being babysat by a chicken named Queenie. It seems that the hen had chicks of her own so when the mama cat needed a break, she left her kittens for the hen to watch along with her own brood.

The photo had the following caption: Our tiny Bantam hen and her sweet brood.. some of her sons and daughters seem to be of questionable heritage.. LOL

Of course many comments and questions were left with the photo.

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Share your story if it’s positive, change it if it’s not

There was a fair amount of online interest this week in a story about a box turtle in Holmes County that was found with the date 1911 carved on the underside of its shell.

The turtle was found by John A. Yoder in early September while he was helping a neighbor shock corn. Here is an excerpt from the Times Reporter story written by Jon Baker (I recommend checking out the whole thing):

Next to the date 1911 were the initials “V.F.” Abe Yoder said that is likely Victor Fender, who lived on a farm off Holmes County Road 600. Fender died in 1985.

Below that are carved the initials “H.T.” and the date 1983. Yoder said that is likely Henry E. Troyer, who owned Fender’s farm in 1983.

The farm is now occupied by Troyer’s son-in-law Joseph D. Miller.

The average life span of a box turtle is 50 years, but a significant portion of them live for more than 100 years.

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Food for the winter

Whether the weather is cold or mild this winter, it is a grim fact that there will be hungry Ohioans in the months ahead. This continues to be a terrible reality for far too many so close to home. Each year 186 million pounds of food are distributed by Ohio foodbanks to those in need around the state.

“Hunger is a pervasive reality in the Buckeye state that impacts more than one in six Ohioans,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, executive director, Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

Because foodbanks, including the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, can leverage funds effectively, monetary donations are more useful than actual food donations. In fact, for every $1 donated to Mid-Ohio Foodbank, four meals can be provided to our hungry neighbors.

With that in mind, Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net are working to raise 10,000 meals at this year’s Farm Science Review. For each $4 donated, a FSR attendee will get to add a scaled-down bushel of corn to a container with the goal of donating funds for 10,000 meals for $2,500.

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County fairs provide more than ribbons, tractors pulls and food

Many people love county fairs. Whether attendees enjoy riding rides, eating fair food, competing in or watching livestock shows or other performances, there is something for almost everyone to enjoy at county fairs.

It is no secret that I enjoy showing our miniature horses at the Morrow County Fair. Although I always try my best and often have good results, my favorite part of the fair is the sense of community. A walk through the barns or a stop at the yearly square dance are always sources of finding good friends with which to enjoy a chat and a laugh. Fun and friendships accompany hard work for me at our county fair.


In addition to my family, I can always count on my friends and fellow exhibitors for a helping hand. My family has learned the hard way that if they come anywhere near the miniature horse barn on show days, they are going to be drafted for a job and they seem to look forward to it and enjoy it.

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One picture of corn that almost broke the Internet

I’ll admit it, one of the things on my bucket list is for something I post to go “viral.” That is, to be shared a gazillion times on the internet and be known as that guy that did the worst belly smacker off of the high dive in history, or caught the ghost of Elvis during a selfie or witnessed a TRIPLE rainbow (what does it mean?!). Who wouldn’t want their 15 minutes of fame, which is more common in our online world, yet just as fleeting?

Michelle Gigger, a farmer and teacher of ag and biology, found herself in the likeness of other Internet stars when she posted a picture on social media of an ear of corn being gluttonously devoured by a few very hungry insects. The caption read “Here people, this is your organic, Non-GMO, pesticide free corn. Enjoy! Would you like salt?”

So far, Gigger’s picture has been shared 1,300 times alone on Twitter, made a jump to multiple Facebook pages where one page alone has had 500,000 engagements due to the quippy snapshot. 

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