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Sun: A farmer’s friend…and enemy

Here in the office of Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net, it is painfully clear that I’m the youngest employee around. From the jokes about millennials to the life stories I have yet to relate to, let’s just say the age gap is, well, noticeable.

Now that my inexperience is on full display, let’s talk something I have faced that’s unique for my age. Skin cancer has been found on my body twice in my life so far. Both times it was melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The discovery is a bit out of the ordinary for a 23-year-old like me as the average age for melanoma diagnosis is 63, according to the American Cancer Society. We’ve kept a close eye on it ever since and that vigilance has brought me a better understanding of the dangers and precautions associated with sun exposure, something we should all keep in mind.

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Raising hands for 4-H

Ohio is winning and I decided I want to try and keep it that way.

As part of its “Raise Your Hand” campaign, National 4-H wants alumni to sign in at 4-H.org/alumni. The state with the most registered alumni by the end of June will bring home $20,000 to use towards 4-H programming. On May 23, Ohio led the national competition with 10,501 alumni. Coming in second was Indiana with 7,677. Texas was third with 4,495.

I remember watching in awe as something I built as a nine-year-old launched into the heavens. One of my first 4-H projects was rocketry and I still remember the euphoria as I gazed skyward at my rocket soaring over the Hancock County corn fields. That project was by no means the most influential part of 4-H for me, but a fond early memory from the program that was a part of my life for many years.

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Goat Crossfit is sweeping the nation

When I find farmers that I want to feature on Farm & Country Radio, it’s easy to find a corn, soybean or wheat grower. As much as I enjoy visiting with them about crops and such, I equally enjoy introducing listeners to farmers that they may never get to meet otherwise.

DaNelle Wolford is a prime example. She and her family have a 1-acre working farm in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. Wolford’s Weed ‘Em & Reap Farm has your typical urban garden that the family harvests fruits and veggies from daily. She also has some livestock on the farm, including chickens and lambs that are raised for meat.

One of the first animals on the farm was a goat that Wolford hoped to keep around for its milk. When that goat arrived, Wolford had no experience with farm animals and didn’t even know how to milk a goat. So, she used the only tool she could think of that was readily available…her breast pump.

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Why are we hog wild over bacon?

While growing up my brothers and I had a running joke that, when asked how much bacon we wanted, we would answer, “Yes.” The idea was that whatever amount of bacon that was available is the amount that we wanted. The Reese brothers (and our father) REALLY enjoyed bacon growing up, and still do. Apparently, we had cutting edge culinary tastes, because bacon has since become quite trendy.

“Bacon is hip. It’s cool. It is kind of the Band-Aid of the kitchen. If you burn a roast, you wrap it in bacon and you’re good to go. Bacon just works. It is a super food in terms of how it can be utilized,” said Quinton Keeran, bacon fan extraordinaire. “I’m a backyard BBQ warrior kind of a guy and I have yet to make one thing that I couldn’t improve vastly by wrapping it in bacon.”

Keeran has, to some degree, built a fair portion of his professional career in Ohio agriculture around bacon.

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Earth Day offers opportunity to showcase stewardship

On April 22, the broad Earth Day Network will recognize the concerns and the work of dedicated scientists by co-organizing the March for Science Rally and Teach-Ins on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

“This year’s theme for Earth Day worldwide is climate and environmental science literacy, which is why the rally and teach-ins on the National Mall are particularly meaningful,” said Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. “It is fitting that once again this year, Earth Day serves as a vehicle for mobilizing concerned citizens — not only on April 22nd, but throughout the year.”

This Earth Day can actually be a great opportunity to not only support scientific literacy but also promote understanding of agriculture’s role in environmental stewardship. Terry Fleck, executive director of The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) said most consumers aren’t completely convinced farmers are doing enough to protect the environment, according to the latest CFI trust research.

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The written and unwritten rules of “Five Dollar Baseball”

Playing sports with family seems to be an undervalued commodity in the marketplace of life these days. Athletics themselves — their competitiveness, sweat equity, failure, success — create a bond among contenders found few other places.

Today, we look at a fun backyard game my family and I recently found ourselves playing while celebrating Easter — part baseball, part football, and all fun. Not sure if it has an official name, but we know it simply as “Five Dollar.”

Growing up as farm kids, we’ve found an open pasture or open farm field seem to be the best places to play such a game. You might remember a similar game played amongst your own family in years gone by.

Note: Five Dollar Baseball is not an illegal action Pete Rose was accused of in the  80s.

Equipment needed:

  • 3+ people
  • Baseball
  • Baseball bat
  • Baseball gloves
  • Courage
  • Skill (optional)
  • Brass knuckles (just kidding)

IMG_9158Official rules:

The game consists of one batter and a varying number of catchers in field.

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Easter candy to avoid this weekend

In the Reese house we grew up hunting for Easter baskets then scarfing down as much candy as we possibly could before heading to church. And, while I do enjoy some delicious Easter candy, I recently stumbled across some types that are definitely worth steering clear of with regard to inclusion in a youngster’s Easter basket. Here are some to avoid this Easter and I’ll think you’ll see why.

 

marshmallow_creeps

Creeps

For those who don’t know, the Easter basket staple of Peeps marshmallowy candies has developed a sort of sub-culture of fanatics. There are Peeps speed eating contests (which I don’t recommend) and countless crafty masters of destruction have found a myriad of unique ways to explode Peeps in microwaves and record the act of brutality to post on the Internet. They come in all shapes, colors and sizes but some version of the Peep is a must-have for many Easter candy connoisseurs as they are the fourth most-popular Easter candy.

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Passing the time and waiting for #Plant17

I have started many a blog in the spring with the phrase “this is my favorite time of year”. It truly is. I love to see trees green up, flowers bloom and dust fly.

With the periodic rains lately, only 2 of those things are happening as we approach mid-April. Farmers are waiting for Mother Nature to give them a dry window to get the ground just right for the 2017 planting season to begin. We all know how patient farmers are this time of year and by now the tractors are shined up and the planters are set up. So, how are they passing the time?

I asked that very question on my Facebook page this week and found out from the pictures and comments from all over Ohio just what growers are doing, short of sitting on their hands, to keep their minds off of not being able to get into the fields.

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Ohio relief efforts sweeter than the meadowlark’s song

A western meadowlark garbled its charming call, watching over me from a charred tree limb as I rolled up strands of ruined barbed wire crossing through the bird’s former grassland home. In the place of the endless stretches of native grasses and forbs waiting on rains to burst with spring growth, blackened hillsides sprawled out in every direction. Despite its pleasant sound, one would have to guess that the state bird of Kansas serenading me was none to happy, having lost its home and livelihood in the few minutes it took the fires to sweep through the area driven by fierce March winds.

Like that lonely meadowlark, many ranchers in the area lost everything in a matter of minutes and we were there to offer a helping hand. In March, I had the wonderful privilege of travelling with a group of Ohioans to deliver supplies and get some work done in Clark County, Kan.

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What is a podcast and how do I use it?

Alas, we live in a digital world these days. Be it the smartphones in our pockets, the vehicles we drive, or the computers we depend on daily — digital is here and here to stay. Along with that are some exciting new forms of media.

We here at Ohio Ag Net recently started a podcast ourselves talking the latest issues in agriculture, featuring those from all corners of the industry.

Podcasts really are great ways to deliver information to more people across the internet, in addition to the more traditional form of broadcast communication. However, we realize not everyone is familiar with the world of podcasts. This blog will look to give a quick introduction on how to best utilize them.

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a piece of digital audio that’s distributed across the internet, available for downloading to a computer or mobile device. They can range in topic and length depending on the creator.

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Ohio to Kansas photo highlights: Farmers helping farmers

March 2017

Ohioans got together through Facebook to lend a helping hand to the folks in need in Ashland, Kansas after devastating wildfires burned the area.

March 24

7 a.m: The BAV crew meets up at the Beck’s facility near London.

8:30 a.m: The crew congregated at a rest stop near the Indiana state line with media, more than 40 loads of hay, feed, fencing supplies, and other items to start the convoy west.

9 a.m. to after 7 p.m.: The convoy cruised due west on I-70 through some brutal crosswinds, a traffic jam or two and some rain showers.

7:19 p.m.: BAV crew arrived at the Kansas City Hotel (with the remainder of the Kansas City Group to follow) for a delicious dinner at Joe’s Kansas City BBQ. The rest of the group continued on to Pratt about an hour out from Ashland.

March 25

7:45 a.m.: The groups fueled up for the last push for Ashland.

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At the heart of agriculture is a helping hand

This picture is a stump of a Christmas tree I cut down last December on my family’s farm in northwest Ohio. My niece noticed the heart-shape and asked me to take a photo. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but it caught my attention later as I scrolled though my phone photos.

As I looked at the photo more, I began to see it as a symbol of the farm that is more than just a place of labor or source of income. My heart is in it. The family farm — the soil, weeds, trees, buildings, wet spots, the critters that roam it, all of it — is a part of me. And no matter where I go or what I do, that farm will always be there. I know that most of you feel the same way.

Now, imagine that this piece of you — your farm — was devastated despite your best efforts to save it.

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Everyday heroes

I am unbelievably fortunate to have many heroes in my life, some who have been top of mind as of late. I thought I’d share with you a bit about these “everyday heroes.” I am sure you know some too.

 

Uncle Mike

I grew up beneath the gaze of this picture hanging on the wall of our school. One day in late junior high I was looking up at it. Another student stopped and asked, “Who’s that.”

“My uncle.”

The other kid looked up at the demigod staring down at us from the photo and then looked at me (uncoordinated with big glasses) with obvious and warranted skepticism. Uncle by marriage…not blood, but certainly an uncle to be proud to know both then and now.

In his formative years J. Mike Inniger was the epitome of a small town football hero that lives on in that picture and will long (and deservedly) be remembered for being a leader of the undefeated and unscored-on 1968 State Champion team in the hallowed halls of Cory-Rawson High School.

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Planting corn on February 20th, 2017

Michael Schmidt figured out how to win the internet for a day. The Illinois farmer posted a video of corn being planted in February!

As if the world wide web isn’t slow enough in rural America, something as crazy as this would cause such a stir among farmers all over the Midwest that the whole thing might just shut down!

Schmidt, the owner of Central Illinois Ag, was helping one of his customers test out his brand new Case IH 2150 planter, with all the precision planting bells and whistles on it.

“We were fortunate enough to have perfect weather conditions, so we brought out our precision specialists out, along with the farmer and his hired men,” Schmidt said. “It was the perfect day to get the planter out there and test it.”

The corn was over 2 years old and if it did happen to come up, Schmidt said the farmer would tear it up and wait for the important crop insurance dates, like everyone else in the area.

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The ups and downs of this winter in GIF form

This winter has been everything from warm, cold, beautiful, dreary, to just plain strange in every way. To look at it so far, we take a recap of the winter in an equally odd way.

via GIPHY

First of all, a quick lesson in computers. A GIF ( as seen above) is an electronic image file type, standing for Graphics Interchange Format. (Fun fact: The GIF acronym pronunciation is currently in a heated debate across the internet. Its creator pronounces it “jif” while many talking heads on the interwebs say it should be pronounced “gif” because of the g standing for graphics. It’s a silly debate.) GIFs are unique in that they support animation without audio, making it easy to share small video clips. In this blog, we’re looking at our reactions from each week of weather with entertaining pieces of media brought to us in GIF form.

Let’s take a look at the historical weather information for each week since November 27, 2016.

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Who’s the rabbit now?

Early this year Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it would be shutting down with the final installment of the “Greatest Show on Earth” this May. This is at least partially a result of one final trick from the wildly popular Barnum & Bailey performing elephants — they disappeared.

Tickets sales for the circus really slumped after the touring elephants were retired in mid-2016 to the point that, when paired with high operating costs, the business became unsustainable. Of course, animal rights activist organizations, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), were behind the push to pull elephants from the circus.

The event attracts roughly 10 million visitors a year who will now have to seek new venues to get their fix of exotic animals and human oddities galore. There is no doubt that the circus that ran for nearly 150 years will be missed by many, but as the legendary  Barnum & Bailey fades from our memories in the name of “progress,” will the thought of performing elephants one day be as foreign as phones with cords that hang on the wall and 8-track players?

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A barn full of Internationals and not a tractor in sight

I often find myself driving through rural Ohio and wondering what is hiding, purposefully or not, behind the rotted walls of centuries old barns in the countryside. There are surely stories those structures could tell and who knows what treasures that might lie within — most with more value of sentiment than monetary.

But never judge a barn by its cover. That is a lesson that I recently learned in northwest Ohio as I made my way to a crop insurance meeting in early February.

That is where a found an incredible collection of vintage International cars and trucks in a newer 100 by 160 barn, owned by Rich Kleinoeder.

“I became friends with an International dealer and we started with one truck that we paid $1,000 for,” Kleinoeder said. “We have a hard time selling anything because we become attached to what we have bought over the years. They’re like our kids now.”

The 60-car collection spans from the first International cars made in 1908 to the manufacturer’s last efforts with trucks in 1980.

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My Plate My State puts Ohio-grown foods on cafeteria trays

Though my metal, rusting Adam-12 themed lunchbox of yesteryear was a far cry from the insulated designer lunchboxes my children use today, the challenges remain largely the same. Times have changed, but for a host of reasons, schools continue to struggle to provide high-quality, low-cost nutritious meals that finicky students actually want to eat — though it is not for lack of trying.

Certainly a legacy of the Obama Administration will be Michelle’s oft-discussed school lunch requirements and I know plenty of hard working school cafeteria folks that really try on a daily basis only to be labeled with the notorious “lunch lady” moniker. But all of the many efforts that have taken place from my childhood until now have done little to slow the endless amounts of homemade PB&J or lunchmeat sandwiches and pudding cups carried to school each day.

Another challenge in places like Ohio with strong farm roots and diverse agricultural production is to connect the local food producers with the needs of the school system.

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Be on the lookout for prognosticating groundhogs next week

Early spring hopefuls will soon flock to the nearest prognosticating groundhog to gain meteorological insights into the weeks ahead. Known as Groundhog Day, the U.S. tradition builds upon old German lore associated with predicting the spring weather on Candlemas, also known as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Feast of the Presentation of our Lord Jesus commemorating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple on Feb. 2.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,

Winter has another flight.

If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,

Winter will not come again.

Somewhere along the line someone added the hibernating groundhog and its shadow to the Candlemas tradition and Groundhog Day was later adopted in the U.S. in 1887. While Pennsylvania has the longest running tradition, Ohio is home to two groundhog meteorologists.

From Ohio History Central: “Buckeye Chuck is one of two groundhogs in Ohio known for predicting the arrival of spring.

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2016 1-75/I-71 Crop Tour follow up

To follow up on our I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour, we got some of the actual yields from the fields we sampled in August. Below you can see how well (or how poorly) we did with our yield estimates.

County, Actual yield, Crop Tour estimate in August

Allen, 160, 136

Auglaize 150, 150

Darke, 205, 152

Fairfield, 206, 169

Hardin, 158, 150

Hancock, 180, 140

Henry, 185, 146

Miami, 196, 151

Morrow, 161, 142

Preble, 218, 180

Putnam, 150, 100

Richland, 175, 164

Ross, 168, 157

Wood, 152, 152

Warren, 165, 193

Williams, 203, 195

Here is our August report from the 2016 I-75/I-71 Crop Tour

The 2016 growing season started wet and cool then turned hot and dry in many areas — a classic worst-case scenario for corn and soybeans. There were certainly some examples that showed up in fields on the 2016 I-75/I-71 Ohio Crop Tour displaying evidence of those challenging conditions.

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