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The challenges of spring grazing

By Kim Lemmon

What a relief it is to both critters and their human caretakers when they can finally return to grazing if they have been confined to stalls and dry lots during the winter.

We only own a handful of acres so we have to take great care to manage our pastures carefully. This means that the horses do not see grass all winter long. We use dry lots for winter turnout.

The horses are always happy to return to their pastures in the spring, and I’m always happy to see my hay use go down as I rely more on grass for a large part of their diet. As most livestock owners know, it is never a good idea to go from feeding only hay and grain to unlimited turnout on grass — especially for horses. Colic and founder are a real danger to horses that aren’t used to eating much grass.

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Is ag up a creek without a paddle on phosphorus issue?

By Matt Reese

I think I have convinced my children that I am pretty smart. They are at the ages where they ask copious amounts of questions. And, every time they ask me a question, I have an answer for them.

“Daddy, why is this soccer ball round?”

“So it rolls after you kick it.”

“Daddy, why do we have a fireplace?”

“So we can stay warm in the winter.”

“Daddy, where do baby puppies come from?”

“Ask your mother.”

And, while it is important for all-knowing parents such as myself to have all of the answers, it is a matter of political survival for politicians. The reality is, though, that nobody has all of the answers. In the case of what to do about the oft-discussed algal blooms in Lake Erie, there are no clear answers. But, an “I don’t know” from a politician in response to an angry constituent

who got a gooey glob of blue-green algae stuck in his jet ski is not acceptable.

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Immaculate conception in goats?

By Kim Lemmon

About 7 years ago, I started breeding pygmy goats. I’ve always done plenty of research and listened to advice from breeders and veterinarians.

Over time, I have developed my own methods of breeding and caring for my goats based on experience and the advice of others. Anyone who knows much about me knows that I take my goats and their health pretty seriously. I call myself “the crazy goat lady” and, to be honest, I’m probably one step away from actually being one.

I try very hard to relax and go with the flow but I’m pretty militant. I keep accurate records of all vaccinations, de-wormings and hoof trimmings, and I take great care to make notes on my calendar every time a doe is exposed to a buck. I may not know the exact dates my kids will be born — the bucks usually enjoy at least a month-long stay with the does — but I know the windows of time when they could kid.

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Why it’s ethical to eat meat

I happened upon a New York Times article that kicked off a “contest” to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices…consuming meat.

Here is just some of the article.

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume “Animal Liberation” galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller “Eating Animals,” those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks.

In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order.

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Why it's ethical to eat meat

I happened upon a New York Times article that kicked off a “contest” to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices…consuming meat.

Here is just some of the article.

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume “Animal Liberation” galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller “Eating Animals,” those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks.

In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order.

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Miracles do happen

By Kim Lemmon

In December, my husband, Mark, and I bought another miniature horse. The reasons behind the purchase and the entire horse search experience are a story for a future “Horse Sense” article.  Nothing at our house is uneventful.

The mini’s name is Harley and Mark has liked him from the beginning. I suspect it has something to do with the fact that Harley is smaller than our other minis so he costs less to feed and he makes less manure to clean from his stall.

We didn’t have a harness small enough for Harley so we had to buy a new one. We finally accomplished this last weekend, and I was excited to try the harness and perform a test drive to see if Harley is still as “bomb proof” as was suggested when we purchased him.

On a beautiful Sunday, I harnessed and drove Harley with very little assistance, and he was a really good boy.

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What are you doing for Ohio Ag Week?

By Matt Reese

To celebrate Ohio Ag Week (the second full week of March) at the Reese house, we made an all-Ohio meal. We used fresh eggs gathered from our own hens that day, bacon and ham from a hog we got from our neighbor, Snowville Creamery Milk from Pomeroy Ohio and some cheese. The cheese came from the local grocery, but we’re not sure about the exact origin of the cheese, so we fudged a bit there.

Our four-year-old daughter made the meal from the cracking of the eggs (she has been doing this since she was two) to adding the cheese, with some supervision from her mother.

 

 

 

The scrambled eggs were delicious and (almost) all from Ohio. It was a great meal, a fun family project, and a great way to help the kids learn about where their food comes from. What are you doing for Ohio Ag Week?

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Mt. Hope Draft Horse Sale

By Kim Lemmon

Three times a year, masses of horse folks gather in Mt. Hope, Ohio, for the Mt. Hope Draft Horse Sale. The sales take place in June, October, and March and feature several days of auctions of all types of horses and horse equipment and tack. The most recent sale was March 6-9, 2012.

Tuesdays of the sale week are generally reserved for carriages, tack and ponies. Wednesdays are crossbreds which is just about anything you can imagine from light horses to grade draft horses to pricey Friesians to Spotted Drafts. Thursdays are reserved for Haflingers, Belgians and pulling horses. Fridays include Percherons and uncataloged horses.

It is an amazing event. Parking is free but scarce and there is certainly plenty of entertainment.

I attended the sale on Tuesday. Inside one building, there were three auctioneers selling tack and there were two more auctioneers in other buildings for a total of five rings at one time.

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Put on pants and go old school on weeds this spring

By Matt Reese

Technology can be a fantastic thing. A few months ago, we started having OCJ/Ohio Ag Net office meetings via Skype on Monday mornings. That way, wherever we were, we could fire up our computers and talk with each other over the Internet. There is something kind of nice about attending a meeting in your underpants from the comfort of your living room.

As things progressed, it became more apparent that in-person meetings were more productive, so we switched to that format. This required me to shave, put on my pants and take the time to face the traffic and the grim drive into work on Monday mornings. While this was rough duty, the in-person meetings have proven more fruitful. Technology can be great, but sometimes it is better to put on pants and be a bit more old-fashioned.

Getting back to old school weed control will be increasingly important as glyphosate resistant weeds continue to pop up and spread in Ohio fields.

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Not a Picasso in Town

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

This week I traveled to Washington D.C. with The Ohio Farm Bureau Federation County Presidents. Every year they make the journey to lobby on behalf of Ohio agriculture as they visit with their district’s Congressmen and women.

The attitude toward our Nation’s Capital is far from favorable and no matter who you talk to inside the beltway, nothing of importance will get done the rest of this year.

I have now been to D.C. twice and to walk around that beautiful city can really inspire a guy. No, I am not running for office anytime soon, but seeing the historic buildings and hearing the great stories of how our Country came to be can put your imagination to work.

It is a city of power, too much some would say, but at one time that power was used to mold a country of great opportunities.

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A salute to “black stretchy thingies”

About a year ago, my husband, Mark, started assembling a toolbox for me. The idea behind it was that I would have a few tools on hand in the barn at all times. It seemed like whenever he went to the barn with me something needed fixed and he never had a tool to work on the project. I also think that based on my history with tools he didn’t want me using any of his fancy tools anymore.

Mark stayed away from power tools but he assembled a hammer, some wrenches, a screwdriver with several different ends (that I by the way have no idea how to attach) and a bunch of other stuff. I really only know what about half of it is.

I thanked him for the toolbox and accessories, and it really is nice to have it in the barn, but I often wonder why he thinks I know how to use much more than the hammer.

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Everybody loves puppies

Everybody loves puppies, so, while I am busy putting together stories from Commodity Classic this week, I thought I would share with you some photos of the newest addition to the Reese family – Clayton. He is a Great Pyrenees that lives in the barn with the sheep to hopefully one day thwart the growing coyote population in our area. We have, thus far, not had any trouble with coyotes getting into the sheep. But, it is not uncommon to go out in the evening and hear the calls of two or three different groups of coyotes from the surrounding woods.

Although Clayton now looks like a puffy baby polar bear, he will grow to a size that will be formidable for any of the coyotes in the area. My wife has wanted a Great Pyrenees for years, though I have tried to postpone a new puppy for as long as possible.

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Self-proclaimed goat midwife

People who knew me in my youth would have never guessed I would have babies of any species born on our property let alone assist with the births. I never had a strong stomach for blood or body fluids.

About 7 years ago a friend from college was buying pygmy goats at the same time I was and she talked me into sharing a buck and starting a breeding program. I had originally planned to just buy a couple of wethers to serve as pets. It has been an adventure ever since.

As all livestock caregivers find out eventually, there are many things you need to learn to do yourself. I love my vets but there are only a few of them in the county that handle large animals, and it seems that usually when I have a kidding emergency, they are all out on other emergency calls.

A few years ago, a group of goat friends and I started our own little maternity group.

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To eat or not eat that Golden Burrito…

By Matt Reese

The marketing masters from Chipotle have once again fired up farmers with a video that promotes small-scale agriculture while vilifying larger farms. While the promotion of small farms, like ours, is fine, it is the vilifying part that draws objections from many in the agricultural community. My wife, Kristin, writes a regular blog though her involvement in the national CommonGround program. She recently weighed in on the subject. Here is an excerpt from, “To eat or not eat that Golden Burrito…” by Kristin Reese.

I have had mixed feelings about Chipotle for a few years. While I support and advocate for consumer choice when it comes to food, it has become my tag line that, “Local is great but bigger is better.” When I say bigger is better I mean it from a global viewpoint. I am thankful for customers who support smaller local growers like my family.

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Well Done Dr. Forshey

By Ty Higgins

As you have probably heard by now, The Ohio Department of Agriculture has a new leader at the helm. His name is David Daniels and he makes his way to ODA via the Statehouse where he served as a State Senator for Ohio’s 17th District for four terms.

For the past 3 months, State Vet Dr. Tony Forshey added the title of Interim Director of ODA. During his short tenure, you would have never guessed that he even knew that “interim” was part of his new role. He hit the ground running knowing that there would be no time for Ohio agriculture to slow down and just wait on a new Director. Dr. Forshey traveled the state to speak at numerous events, spearheaded working groups to discuss water quality and nutrient management and I would even put money on him looking forward to making the county fair rounds had his time at the post lasted until summer.

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Don't change the RFS rules in the middle in the game

My four-year-old daughter and I were playing a game of cards the other day. The goal of the game was to get a matching set of 8 cards, or so I thought. I had just gotten the final card for victory when my daughter announced that she had changed the rules slightly and that I

was not the winner. The new rules, however, fit her set of cards perfectly.

“Sorry, daddy,” she said. “I won again.”

This story is funny when playing cards with a four-year-old, but is no laughing matter when dealing with billions of dollars and a nation’s energy security. But, it seems that some folks feel they need to change the rules in the middle of the game for the outcome they want when it comes to the heated debate surrounding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

This is why the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association have drawn a line in the sand regarding the RFS.

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Don’t change the RFS rules in the middle in the game

My four-year-old daughter and I were playing a game of cards the other day. The goal of the game was to get a matching set of 8 cards, or so I thought. I had just gotten the final card for victory when my daughter announced that she had changed the rules slightly and that I

was not the winner. The new rules, however, fit her set of cards perfectly.

“Sorry, daddy,” she said. “I won again.”

This story is funny when playing cards with a four-year-old, but is no laughing matter when dealing with billions of dollars and a nation’s energy security. But, it seems that some folks feel they need to change the rules in the middle of the game for the outcome they want when it comes to the heated debate surrounding the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS).

This is why the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association have drawn a line in the sand regarding the RFS.

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Beware of the stud

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been helping my neighbor, Patricia, with her barn chores. She is recovering from surgery and has lifting limitations so her daughter, Liz, and I have been working together to make sure her stalls are cleaned and her water buckets are full.

Patricia is a good friend and I like her horses so it really isn’t work; I enjoy visiting with her and her horses. She has also helped me chase loose minis and deliver newborn baby goats many times in the past. We make a good team.

The only drawback to visiting Patricia and her barn is her stallion, Ace. Ace is an aggressive stud and to make matters worse, he seems to particularly dislike me. His hatred for me is kind of funny because he really doesn’t have a reason. I’ve never touched him, let alone hit him, and I have always talked nicely to him.

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Cow Cam

Now I have seen it all! I recently discovered the first video filmed by cattle.

This, of course, raised a few poignant questions, like did the Director use a bull horn? Is this just a “trailer” for the full length moovie? When a cow messed up a line, did someone yell “Cud, Cud”?

I doubt this movie will make millions at the box beef office, but it is yet another great way to show consumers what happens on the other side of the fence to provide them a safe wholesome product at the meat case…enjoy.

 

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Surprises in the horse barn aren’t always pleasant

At this point in my life, I’m never really very surprised when I find some kind of problem or disaster in the barn. I will admit that I did reach my breaking point last spring, when the barn flooded and my pregnant goats where standing in three inches of water but that was a pretty extreme problem.

Most of the time rotten mini horses, Mike and Ike, create the little surprises I meet randomly during my morning feedings.

I wasn’t really very surprised when I saw Mike and Ike munching on several bales of hay they had managed to pull into their stalls one morning last week. Really it was only a matter of time until it happened.

Last summer, in an effort to cram as much hay into the barn as possible, my husband, Mark, and I filled two of our three horse stalls with hay. It seemed like a great idea at the time.

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