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Farming: One of the Worst Jobs of the Year

Congratulations farmers! You have chosen to work in one of the worst careers of the year!!

Of course that depends on who you ask but according to CareerCast.com, a career website, your job on the farm ranks the 190th worst job of the year.

The site ranked 200 jobs from best to worst based on five criteria: physical demands, work environment, income, stress, and hiring outlook. To compile its list, the firm primarily used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other government agencies.

At first this infuriated me. How dare they say that one of the noblest jobs I have worked, and have covered hundreds of others doing, is among the worst! Then I took a second look at the criteria and you know what, maybe they’re right.

As far as jobs that have physical demands, farming takes top honors. That is what has built the character of the hardest working people in the nation.

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Bearded broadcasters and hairy writers vie for best facial hair


We have wrapped up no-shave November and here are the hairy (and not-so-hairy results) from this unprecedented display of manliness and testosterone at our office. This first photo was taken in early November.


Notice in the before picture that Joel Penhorwood is not pictured. He is in the second photo on the far right, but in his case the after is not all that much different than the before.

beards after2

Our wives (Joel is not married) have been generally supportive of the facial hair frenzy at the office, though the reviews are mixed. I plan on keeping mine at least through Christmas.

I have found that, when the cold winter wind hits my beard, it swirls around a bit before it hits my face and feels a bit warmer. With this in mind, it may be wise to leave it until spring.

We have been debating at the office who has the best beard.

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Deer saved from coyotes by hunters

Deer season is often full of adventure for those involved but this video is amazing. Apparently, two bucks’ antlers became permanently latched together while they were fighting. One buck died, either during the fight or by being eat by coyotes, while the live buck remained attached to the dead buck. The dead buck quickly became a feast for a group of coyotes.

Some hunters took pity on the buck and decided to save him from the same fate his sparring partner had received. Much effort was put forth to untangle the live buck from the dead one.

Enjoy the video and remember most hunters care as much about living wildlife as they do filling their tables with meat and their walls with trophies.

I originally watched the video at LiveLeak.com

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Kristin Reese featured on “The Balancing Act” this week

I have written multiple times about the adventures that result when my wife, Kristin, leaves me home with the children for multiple days. Well, now you have a chance to see the other side of the story by getting to watch my talented (and beautiful) wife in action.

Her most recent multi-day absence from home was in October when she flew to Florida for a television shoot for a morning program on the Lifetime Channel. She did a holiday cooking demo for a segment on the television show “The Balancing Act” that airs on weekdays at 7 a.m.

While I was home caring for the livestock and the children, she dealt with the rigors of meetings on the beach, makeup artists, wardrobe consultants, and television sets. She is a real pro, though, doing a great job in just one take!

This was all through the CommonGround program, a grass-roots movement to foster conversations among women on farms and in cities about where our food comes from.

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Draft horses and chainsaws: A match made in heaven?

I recently spent time in the woods with a crew of loggers that used horsepower to move the harvested timber. I was collecting photos and information for an upcoming article in Ohio’s Country Journal.

Generally, I picture the woods as a quiet and peaceful place to spend a fall day, but when this crew was working, the woods were filled with noise as the buzz of chainsaws filled the air. The saws sounded rather loud to my sensitive ears so I was surprised to find the Percheron draft horses working that day unfazed by the noise. As they waited (unsupervised) for a path to be made to allow them to safely reach the next set of logs, they munched on leaves or napped. I guess they are a lot more used to the noise than me as they spend a lot of time working in the woods.

I made  short video of the horses as they waited.

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Wild turkey encounters

I grew up in Clark County, Ohio. Although I realize that wild turkeys do exist in the county, I don’t recall ever seeing one during the time I lived within its borders. I have lived in Morrow County for more than a decade, and I often see large groups of turkeys. It is amazing what an hour’s drive can do to change the habitat, and therefore the wildlife, that lives in it in this great state of Ohio.

During my time in Morrow County, I have seen large groups of turkeys searching for insects in fields, and I have seen them flying across the roads. Their ability to fly surprised me because I don’t spend much time in the woods and I have a general lack of knowledge about turkeys. I didn’t realize they could fly.

This past spring, I learned something else about turkeys. They are fast even on the ground. 

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The men of “Ohio’s Country Journal” and Ohio Ag Net decided to celebrate “MoVember” by not shaving in November as part of the global effort to raise funds and awareness of men’s health issues. Ty Higgins, Dale Minyo, Bart Johnson, Joel Penhorwood (not pictured) and I have been fuzzy faced since Nov. 1. Kirby Hidy already had a beard. This photo was taken with some of us about mid-month. Stay tuned for a final photo to see how hairy we get by December.

We may look funny with facial hair, but the issue behind MoVember is very serious. Dan Boysel, from Delaware County, shares why:

In November each year, my wife Kerry lets me grow a terrible looking beard, not because of deer season, but because of our story.

“Dan, the tests indicate a cancerous growth.”

This is what an average guy from Delaware County never expected to hear.

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Is this February or November?

Though some Ohioans received snow in late October, a more widespread snowfall hit the state last week. This early-November snowfall was the first snow I received this season.

Although I had heard reports of expected snow, I was surprised to wake up to not only about an inch of snow, but also a thin layer of ice beneath the snow. I had to break ice off of latches to gain entry into the barn, and once inside, I found a barn full of frozen water buckets. I had to be dreaming. The forecast has more very cold temperatures late this week and early next week. This was November right?

The next morning, the thin layer of snow was still on the ground and the water buckets in the barn were nearly frozen solid. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I usually don’t have to worry about using heated water buckets (which I know I’m very lucky to own) until Mid-December.

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Ag is Cool (and kind of cold) on a memorable farm visit

It was a brisk morning as we readied the farm. We swept the barn, made sure all the water buckets were full and cleaned up a couple of cob webs in the corners in preparation for a visit from a Pickerington fourth grade class to come visit the farm in November.

While not exactly from a big city, the group of students and their teacher had little to no experience with any type of agriculture, other than occasionally driving by the few scattered corn and soybean fields tucked in between houses and strip malls in the area. The class was selected as one of the statewide winners in the Ag is Cool program at the Ohio State Fair. The program has several components, all of which seek to infuse a bit of agricultural knowledge into Ohio’s students.

The Agriculture is Cool program was inspired by the initiative of Gov. John Kasich in 2011.

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Talk about selling cows!

Only in Australia will you see this!

Road trains arrive at Helen Springs Cattle Station, north of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory of Australia. Composed primarily of open grazing land, the property occupies an area of 3,937 square miles. The cattle are loaded onto the road train for their journey to Longreach, Queensland.


ATT00022The Road Train then leaves on its long trip.

Interesting statistics:   

         There are 17 trucks with 3 trailers and 2 decks per trailer; that’s 102 decks of cattle.

          Approximately 28 cattle per deck; A total of 2,856 head of cattle.

          The cattle will weigh approximately  1,102.3 lbs each 

          The sale price for cattle at Longreach is approximately 75 cents per pound

          Each animal will therefore be sold at $825.

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Amish friends: Talking draft horses and Bigfoot

I have kind of a unique job. During most of the 14 years of my employment at Ohio’s Country Journal, my tasks have kept me in my home office or at my desk in Columbus. I enjoyed this work, but it was slightly less adventurous than my current role.

Since I have started helping write articles for the Horse Sense Section as well as an occasional feature story for Ohio’s Country Journal, I’m out of the office more. I sometimes wonder if the management ever considers what affect my hermit-like personality has on the poor folks, which are graced with my presence during my visits to interview them for upcoming articles.

Most of the time interviews start off with a little chitchat and time to get to know the people being interviewed. This portion of the fact-finding mission always brings me to a crippling silence as I search for topics to discuss with folks.

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Evasive bottle baby goat

Pygmy goats often give birth to multiples and raise them on their own, but recently a friend’s goat decided three babies was too many and rejected one of her kids. My friend found this poor little baby freezing and starving in her barn. The only option for his survival was to bring him into the house for a few days to warm him up and start him on a bottle.

When goats are newborns, they require feedings several times a day. My friend couldn’t take the baby to work so I volunteered to goat sit for a few days.

The job was fun in the beginning, but it become more challenging as the baby grew stronger. He no longer wanted to stay in his bed and would wander all over the house. Often I had to have my dogs help me find him.

Not only did the baby become very efficient at hiding, but his messes started becoming bigger too as he ate more.

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New movie brings farm dirt to a theater near you

“Some people still view farmers as the old guy on a rickety tractor with overalls.”

“That’s not the case at all. We’re just like everyone else, we just have different jobs. We’re normal.”

Those are a couple of the quotes from a new movie that hits theaters next spring, Farmland.

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker, James Moll, has unveiled an advance trailer and website for this film, which is now in post-production. The feature length documentary follows the next generation of American farmers and ranchers, examining the lives of farmers and ranchers in their 20s, in various regions across the U.S.

MG_9335“I make documentaries because it’s a thrill to explore new topics and meet people that I might not otherwise cross paths with,” said Moll.

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Tips for a spook–free farm on Halloween

I have a pretty vivid imagination. As a bonus, I’m literally afraid of my own shadow.  Every dark morning or evening that I trudge out to the barn, I have to work pretty hard to keep away thoughts about creatures of the night attacking me before I can flip on the barn lights. Whether or not the creatures I imagine are real, the fear I feel is definitely real.


Halloween makes all this fright much worse, because we all know it is the night that belongs to all things spooky. Add my tendency to watch several paranormal/ghost hunting shows fairly regularly into the mix of Halloween and my vivid imagination, and it is easy to understand how Halloween can become nearly a crippling experience for me because of my fears both real and imagined.


Unlike the “stars” of the ghostly reality shows, I watch these individuals search out all things spooky so I know what NOT to do. 

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The wood pile controversy is heating up

When we first moved to our current home out in the country, the winters were cold and the propane bills were very high, even though we kept the thermostat set in the low 60s. We decided we had to do something about the heating situation, and decided to get an outdoor wood burner.

Since then, the wood burner (and the necessary wood pile) has been the source of some marital disagreement. Kristin does not like the wood burner, the firewood or the act of filling the wood burner with wood, but she loves the warm house. She has even threatened to put out a jar to collect a dollar for anytime I mention the words “firewood,” “pile” or “wood burner.”

Meanwhile, I take great delight in trying to outdo my previous wood pile performance every year. This year, going into winter, I have between 4 and 5 cords stacked up in front of the garage, which should last at least half the winter.

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A John Deere combine that is anything but green

I am at the age now that if you have attire older than me, your neckties have been in and out of style a time or two and you really need to clean out your sock drawer. That is why I had to slow down and then completely turn around as I passed a 1976 John Deere 4400 combine cutting beans in Bradner, Ohio (Wood County).

4400 2After waiting a little while for Carl Bierksheide to make his way back from the far side of the field to the side shared with the road, I was able to jump up into the cab for a looksee and a short visit. Before I even introduced myself I asked him where his buddy seat, fridge and monitor were. He smiled and stuck his hand out and we got to talking about this relic that started working in the field almost 40 years ago, back when the average corn yield was below 90 bushels.

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Hocking County Fair helped a family in need

Seven-year-old Westley McKinley, from Hocking County, was diagnosed with a relatively rare disorder called Batten Disease in 2010. Since then, his family has been dealing with the horrors of the disease that is fatal and debilitating — trying to help Westley get the most out of life while he still can. There is no known cure for Batten’s Disease.

The stress of the situation, mounting medical bills and long and regular trips to Cincinnati for treatment have created challenges that are hard for many to imagine, but the family is working to make the best of the terrible situation. Westley’s mother, Tracee, was quoted in the “Logan Daily News:”

“When Westley was still talking, he said he wanted to be a teacher. Westley will never become an actual teacher, but he doesn’t have to because he teaches everyone on a daily basis,” she said. “He teaches how to love unconditionally, be accepting of others and to always be thankful for what you have in life.”

At the Hocking County Fair in September, the community (including the fair board, exhibitors, bidders and others) pulled together to help the McKinley family by auctioning a hog to raise funds to help with the family’s medical expenses.

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I was having a pretty good day. I was interviewing a possible horse sitter, and I was excited because she seemed to like the horses and has the time to feed for me several times a month. Although this young woman was an adult with a full-time job, she still seemed happy about helping me with occasional feedings.

We were on our way back to the barn from the house and about finished up when I noticed a snake literally under my feet. I started screaming and dancing around to get away from the snake — not exactly a great impression to leave on a potential new helper.

I tried calling my husband several times to help with snake extermination, but he didn’t answer his phone. The young woman declared that she couldn’t walk by the snake as it was in a narrow aisle, and I just didn’t think I could kill it while both she and the snake were watching me.

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A farmer tribute inspires a photographer

I always appreciate good farm photography and I came across some great photos on the Internet the other day, with an even greater story behind them.

Matt Rubel, the photographer, was a “Navy kid” who traveled around the world with his family while he was growing up, but his mother’s side of the family is from a farming community in Illinois. He always had an interest in visiting the farm. Rubel grew up to (obviously) become a talented photographer who recently traveled back to his family’s farm for a visit. While there he was talking to his uncle, who was planning on moving some tractors. Rubel saw a great opportunity to get some tractor pictures, but what he found really caught his photographic eye and inspired him. Here is an excerpt from Rubel’s comments:

“A local farmer, Jake Moore, was arranging a tribute for his best friend, Kyle Hendrix (31), who had recently passed away from cancer.

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A boy and someone else’s dog

One of my fondest childhood memories is my first puppy. Sparky was a purebred Dalmatian and although her name was anything but original, our friendship was.

I was always a very serious young man growing up. On the dairy farm fun usually wasn’t on the agenda, unless you count spraying down the parlor as a good time. But Sparky made me a kid.

We would take the longest walks through the field and out to the woods. She stuck up for me when a stranger visited the farm and I would stick up for her when the neighbor shot her with a BB gun for getting into his chickens.

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