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Those doggone farm dogs

There are a few things that immediately pop into your mind when you think of a farm, and not too far down that list is a trusty farm dog. While dogs are an indispensible part of many farms, they also can add some great stories. Most farmers have a few good dog stories.

My in-laws have a Great Pyrenees named Joey to guard the sheep from the increasing coyote population in the area. For the most part, Joey does a great job with the sheep, but occasionally gets a bit over zealous in his efforts.

Just the other morning, my wife Kristin was out wandering the pastures in search of a missing lamb. It had wandered away from its mother just long enough for the massive, and well-meaning, white dog to pick up the little guy up and gingerly carry him off to the far corner of the pasture for safe keeping until he could locate the mother and reunite them.

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“Willie Robertson” of Duck Dynasty makes a visit to the Morrow County Fair

So maybe the actual Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty didn’t make it to the Morrow County Fair, but he was represented by a driver dressed in a costume to look like him during the Draft, Pony, Mini and Mule Show at the fair during the Free Style Driving Class.

 

I’m always looking for a way to have a lot of fun during this class so this year I dressed up as Willie Robertson. It was a fun time. Most folks didn’t recognize me, and a few folks thought I looked more like a terrorist than a cast member of Duck Dynasty, but I had a good time.

 

Always remember, the fair should always be about having fun!

 

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Let’s say the Farm Bill is Syria

“It is a matter of national security.”

How many times have we heard that over the past few weeks as Congress decides whether to take action against the government of Syria for allegedly attacking their own people with chemical weapons?

I get it.

I get that by standing up for the same beliefs that we hold here at home in other parts of the world helps many of our allies in the Middle East region and beyond. I understand that by not punishing the Syrian leadership we are setting a precedent for more hellacious, catastrophic attacks in the future without a second thought.

I am not saying to move forward in one way or another on the topic of using military force in the instance of Syria.

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Draft horse is 24-year fair veteran

It is not rare to find families that enjoy showing at their local county fair year after year, but what is rare is that for the last 24 years Ron and Susan Timmons have been able to show Dixie, their Belgian mare, at the Morrow County Fair every year.

Twenty-four years ago, Ron brought Dixie home from a sale as a weanling as a surprise for Susan. Since that time, Dixie as become a regular at the Morrow County Fair. She has been shown at the fair in various events during the annual draft horse show during every year of her life.

Dixie still looks great and is healthy and was able to compete at the 2013 Morrow County Fair in Belgian Mare Halter and in the draft horse cart classes. She still seems to enjoy her time at the fair and in the show arena.

This type of longevity in the draft horse show arena is unique and speaks to the quality of the horse and the care she receives.

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Farmers feeding a hungry world and caring for it too

Back in college, I was (and I continue to be) pretty fiscally conservative. But, at the same time, I have also always loved ample quantities of good food. These reasons combined make me a big fan of a good buffet. Of course, at a buffet, my personal goal is always to make “profit” — to consume an amount of food with a value that is in excess of the monetary cost of the buffet in question.

For example, I was part of a group of three or four guys back in college that would venture down High Street at OSU and stop at a $6 pizza buffet. At that same place, I could buy a pizza for $9.99. So, if I could eat an entire thin crust pizza at the $6 buffet, I would easily make ample profit. A buffet outing that focused on the higher dollar “everything” pizza would be even more profitable if sufficient quantities were consumed.

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Food Dialogues combine the art and science of food

Have you enjoyed a good sunset lately?

This summer we had a stretch of beautiful summer cool days that made it a pleasure to be outside doing anything (even baling hay). Those beautiful days led to beautiful, crisp nights, many of which were buffered in by breathtaking sunsets.

After a long Saturday afternoon of stacking small square hay bales on the wagon, I wiped the sweat off my forehead and looked up to notice a beautiful sky as the sun dipped down toward the western horizon between the trees and rolling hills in the distance. I was hot and I had been working hard, but the cool evening breeze and the stunning pinkish-orangey-red colors of the sky after a day of working with family offered very a pleasant and hard to quantify kind of feeling.

We live in a science-obsessed society, but some things (like sunsets) are not about science. I am sure that some scientist somewhere could calculate an equation or track brain waves or something that could scientifically describe why people find pretty sunsets appealing.

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Hair color: It’s not just for humans anymore

Readying livestock for any kind fair or show is always a lot of work, but because I have chosen to own and show miniatures with Appaloosa patterns I always have more white to scrub daily during the fair than the average exhibitor.

I’m lucky because my draft horse is black, but she does have one white leg. To cut down on white areas that need scrubbing, I have always purchased spray paint for livestock and painted her leg during the fair, but the color constantly rubs off and needs reapplied.

I’ve known for a while that many folks in the draft horse world use human hair dye to color their horses’ coats, but I had never considered it as an option for me. I understand why they color the coats — it is legal at draft horse shows and really how often are you going to find six horses for a hitch class that match perfectly.

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Food Dialogues in Columbus

As more questions and concerns about biotechnology and confusion about the oft-used term ”sustainability” emerge for grocery shoppers and diners around the country, people are looking for answers.

Some of those answers are being provided today, The Food Dialogues: Ohio is being live streamed at http://ofb.ag/fooddialogues from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. EDT.

The Food Dialogues event series has been in multiple cities around the country and is coordinated by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance at the national level. The Ohio Soybean Council and the Ohio farm Bureau Federation have worked on and sponsored the details at the state level. Today’s Food Dialogues: Ohio is featuring two distinct discussions one focused on biotechnology and another on sustainability. The panels will be moderated by WTVN talk radio host Joel Riley.

The first panel discussion, “Biotechnology (GMOs) And Your Food,” will explore the role of science when it comes to issues tied to food.

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Hair dryer offers cure for bug bites

Everyone who lives in the country has had their share of bug bites, but bugs find me especially attractive. I can’t go outside and not be bitten by something. I’m somewhat used to having a bug bite or two, but recently I had a major reaction to bug bites.

I was in the barn clipping some long hair off my mini horses when I felt something bite me on my back. I felt the bug viciously bite me a few more times, but I tried to continue with my work. I remember the bites being painful, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle.

After I finished my work, I returned to the house and looked in the mirror so I could see the damage from the attack. I was horrified to find a series of bites and a very red and angry looking space on my back that was approximately 6 inches by 4 inches.

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Up close and personal with draft horses at the Ohio State Fair

The 2013 Ohio State Fair Draft Horse Show served as another great opportunity for me to collect photos, videos, and information for current and upcoming stories for our online news site as well as for future issues of Ohio’s Country Journal.

I had a great time and learned much while covering the event. Make sure you take a look at the photos and video from the draft horse show held at the Fair.

One of the highlights for the week for me was meeting a very famous Belgian gelding. Make sure you read about him and watch a short video of him in action at the Fair.

While I was snapping photos of an exhibitor for an upcoming issue of Ohio’s Country Journal, I also captured many other participants in action. There is a photo gallery from the show online. Take a look. You might just see someone you know.

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Teamwork required for Ohio State Fair

We have gotten tremendous response to the quick results we post from the Ohio State Fair. It is amazing how many people check out the photos, videos and results we post in real time as the junior market and dairy shows take place.

I was asked by several people at the Ohio State Fair about what happens behind the scenes to get the results, photos and videos posted so quickly. Well, that is a good question, and here is a short answer. Teamwork.

There are thousands of names, spellings, placings, home counties, and champions in all of the different shows we cover with all of the different species and breeds. It takes extensive work from all of our staff. We each have our own roles and we work together as a team to get the job done.

And during the course of the Fair, our support team for the rapid result posting extends well beyond our staff.

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Meeting the famous Belgian gelding “Chuck”

Every year when I attend the Ohio State Fair draft horse show, I sit next to my friend Ron Wilson, and I listen to him tell stories about a famous Belgian gelding that he bred on his farm near Zanesville.

The stories about this gelding named Chuck get a little more involved every year as Ron tries to point Chuck out to me in the hitches. I have to admit that I’ve always harbored a little doubt about the truth in his tales of Chuck because Ron is a great storyteller and enjoys teasing me.

This year my assignment for a future Ohio’s Country Journal article led me directly to the supposed owners of Chuck, the Hammersmiths of Defiance. One of the first questions I asked their driver, Jason Honsberger, was whether or not there was actually a horse in the hitch that was bred by Ron. As it turns out, Ron wasn’t exaggerating about Chuck.

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Porktastic day at the Ohio State Fair Rib-Off

I waited an entire year for it. I got up and went for a three-mile run and ate a very small breakfast in preparation. I got in the car and drove to the Ohio State Fair and it was finally time for me to once again serve as a judge at the Ohio State Fair Pork Rib-off.

Oh the magical sauces, the tender, smoky meat, the delicious smells and eye appeal of the ribs — it is nothing short of dazzling and well worth a year of waiting since I judged in 2012. I was joined in my enviable role by David Black

with the Ohio Soybean Council, Dave White of the Ohio Livestock Coalition, Joel Riley from 610 radio, and Virgil Strickler with the Ohio State Fair.The event that followed was nothing short of amazing. Wave after wave of delicious pork cooked up from some of Ohio’s top rib makers was set before us to enjoy.

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I’ll take a little rain any day over a “Sharknado”

The weather in Ohio has been even more unpredictable than normal the past few years. If it isn’t a drought, we are nearly drowned with rain. The storms a few weeks ago caused damage to crops and structures that is still being felt in many areas of the state.

As farmers and landowners clean up the messes and assess the damage from those storms, they must often shake their heads and wonder why they can’t just order a year of “normal” weather. My take on the weather is that it could always be worse; at least the most recent and devastating round of storms wasn’t a “Sharknado.”

Last week the SyFy channel released “Sharknado,” a bizarre movie they created about a shark tornado that hits California. Literally, thousands of sharks flow through flooded streets and storm drainage systems and eventually fly through the air as a tornado flings them at unsuspecting citizens.

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Where have I been? My clothes don’t lie

What I do, in my opinion, is the next best thing to farming. I do not have the monetary, land or equipment resources to even think about actually farming, not to mention I married a city girl. So, the probability of having the lifestyle that my Dad and both Grandpas had is slim to none and I’m okay with that. I still get up early in the morning, read over the farm news of the day and get started covering some of the stories that will be farm news in the days to come. I couldn’t ask for a better gig.

Earlier this month my wife (did I mention she is a city girl) asked me where I have been.

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Plenty to look forward to at the Ohio State Fair

At the office, we all look forward to the fun of the Ohio State Fair, but we also work pretty hard at the event to promote the youth and agriculture that are showcased there. Our staff puts in a huge number of man-hours at the event and, over the years, we all have found a few things we look forward to enjoying at the Fair every year.

In my estimation, Dale Minyo almost single handedly keeps the iced tea vendors in business at the Fair. He says he only averages three to four per day. He points out the importance of keeping the same cup for the duration of the event to maximize the savings. Dale also really enjoys seeing what is new at the Ag. And Hort. Building each year.

Bart Johnson remains enamored with Smoky Bear in the conservation area. Every time he sees that familiar face he recalls how amazed he was as a child that Smokey knew his name.

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Barnyard companions develop friendships of all sizes

My barn houses critters of all shapes and sizes. There are several barn cats in addition to one draft horse and several miniature horses.

It has always been apparent that the cats love the miniature horses. The cats like to bring “presents” back to the mini horses to document their adventures. It is not uncommon to find pieces of dead birds and rodents within the miniature horse stalls. I think it is the cats’ way of making friends with the horses. It has never been quite so clear what the draft mare thinks of the minis.

A new problem developed in the barn this summer as I tried to make room to house the mini stallion away from the mini mares and give plenty of room to the mini mare and her foal while still keeping all the horses happy and with access to shelter. The draft mare had never had a permanent companion.

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Beware of heat for the rest of July

It is certainly hot and humid week for baling hay, but many people are doing just that around Ohio.

We bale around 20 acres of mostly small square bales and have been hitting it hard so far this week with a late second cutting following the very extended period of wet weather that bogged down any attempts to cut hay earlier. Yesterday I was out on the wagon starting to stack the second load when I got a bit dizzy. At first I thought I would push on and then better judgment set in. I went and sat in the shade and drank water for about 10 minutes and I was fine after that. Then I drove the tractor for the next load.

Be careful in this intolerably humid heat that looks like it will be sticking (literally) around for a while. Jim Noel, with the National Weather Service, says that the remainder of July will be on the warm side.

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The many paths to a new farm bill…or not

Many in American agriculture communities watched in disbelief as the House of Representatives narrowly passed a farm-only farm bill. As a reporter, my only goal that very day was to find out what in the world was going on inside the beltway as the tone of bringing this type of bill to the floor gained traction with growing support from Congressmen and women and then some ag groups. My initial thought was to call Dr. Carl Zulauf, a professor at The Ohio State University. He has always been well versed on ag policy. I knew what was going on in Washington was befuddling when Dr. Zulauf was at a loss for words as Representatives battled out feverishly for and against the separation of farm and nutrition policies.

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