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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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The Buckeye Cowboy — Kirby Hidy

If you have ever been around the Farm Science Review, The Ohio State Fair, The Sale of Champions, The Agriculture Hall of Fame Breakfast, Pork Congress, Power Show or a number of other events around Ohio and saw a salty-haired, mustached man sporting a cowboy hat and a smile, I can almost guarantee  that you met Kirby Hidy.

We lost our great friend and co-worker over the weekend and for a man who brought so much life to every conversation he had, it is hard to believe that he is gone. Kirby was in and around Ohio agriculture for decades. He worked at The Ohio Department of Agriculture, The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, WRFD Radio, with me years ago at The ABN, and over the last five years after he and I began working here at The Ohio Ag Net.

2186b87Kirby was the most simple, yet complex man I have come to know.

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Endless mowing

I recently made a significant reduction in livestock numbers at our place. I was having trouble justifying the expense and the work required to care for so many critters so I decided it was time to make a change. The change wasn’t an easy one, but it has significantly lightened my livestock related workload and expenses.

The one side affect to reduced livestock numbers that I had not foreseen was the reduction in grass eating power now residing in our barn. With less critters, I buy less feed, but I also have less natural grass mowers. This spring I have spent a lot of time mowing grass.

I will admit that I might be overdoing it a little bit with the regularity of my mowing, but shorter grass is easier and faster to cut through and our rotary cutter has been in need of repair for some time. The lack of a usable larger field mower means that this spring I have spent much time seated on a riding mower while mowing not only the yard but the small field beside our house that used double as a pasture and arena but is now just an arena.

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Fair season is almost here

Next month, summer will finally arrive along with the Ohio agricultural fair season. With the 2015 crop of Ohio fairs, there will of course be new chances for hard work to pay off, the talents of Ohio’s youth will be showcased and show ring dreams will come true.

This year’s fair season gets an earlier start than in recent years. The season kicks off June 8 with the Paulding County Fair, followed by the Putnam County Fair and the Pickaway County Fair starting on June 22. The fair season concludes this year with the Loudonville Independent Fair in Ashland County starting Oct. 6 and the Fairfield County Fair starting Oct. 11.

Throughout the fair season, Dale Minyo and Ohio Ag Net will be on the road again this summer visiting fairs around the state. Stop by and say “Hello” and check in on the markets and happenings in Ohio agriculture.

Most of the OCJ/Ohio Ag Net staff will be at many events during the Ohio State Fair held from July 29 to Aug.

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Arthur the miracle Pygmy goat

A healthy and normal birth is just the first in step raising livestock. Anyone who has ever had livestock born on their property knows that the fun has just started but the work is not over.

The eight Pygmy goat kids born in my barn in late February were a tremendous blessing. Eight was the largest number of kids I have ever had born from just three does. I have enjoyed caring for the kids and playing with them, but it has not all been fun.

With an increase in numbers, of course comes an increase in the chance for things to go wrong. The first sign of trouble was baby goat with scours. I assumed poor Arthur just had an upset tummy so I treated him with products I had on hand designed to rectify issues like his.

After two days of treatment, Arthur wasn’t any better so I stopped by my vet’s office and purchased another treatment designed to prevent scours.

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The massive backfire of the non-GM burritO

Though folks in the ag media have been expressing outrage concerning the questionable marketing practices from fast food giant Chipotle for years, the restaurant chain’s misleading tactics have seemingly gone unnoticed (and have even been celebrated) by most everyone else. That changed in April, though, when Chipotle announced that it was removing all foods containing genetically modified ingredients from its menu — the first major restaurant chain to do this.

Since the announcement, the formerly beloved burritos have been blasted around the country on the air, on the Internet and in newsprint. A flood of information came out about the incredible hypocrisy of Chipotle’s “food with integrity” campaign that disregards an overwhelming scientific consensus, basic, well-founded nutritional facts, honesty, and common sense. The menu’s high caloric content, lofty sodium levels and sugary sweet beverages have well-known, scientifically proven ill effects if consumed in quantity, yet the restaurant chain claims that it offers a healthy eating choice because it is removing genetically modified ingredients from the menu.

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What does “LOL” mean to you?

It is not uncommon for my husband, Mark, and I to keep in contact with family and friends through text messages, e-mails and Facebook private messages. We do still talk to people on the phone, but sometimes a quick text can take the place of a lengthy conversation.

Recently, we became a little alarmed and confused by the abbreviations family members were tacking onto the end of their text messages. We do routinely use abbreviations ourselves but we know what “LOL” means (of course, Laugh Out Loud) but we couldn’t figure out why family members were laughing at the end of every text. It was especially alarming because some of the text messages had a serious tone to them.

Mark and I discussed it at length and I finally remembered a Facebook post I had seen about a person a generation older than us that thought “LOL” meant Lots of Love.

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