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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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Mink in the house!!

A mink is surely among the top few creatures that roam the wilds of Ohio that you do not want to encounter in close quarters. Minks are rarely seen but widely known for their beautiful pelts. They are also cunning, ferocious and have a musky odor that almost rivals a skunk. In short, a mink is not something you hope to find in your home.

My sister-in-law got home this week to find my brother holding two brooms with a look of sheer terror on his face after a mink was discovered in their house. The theory is that the mink came in to the basement through the sump pump drain tile that leads to the creek on their wooded property in northwest Ohio, but they don’t really know for sure. The mink was discovered when my five-year-old nephew opened the basement door to find it running up the steps at him.

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Finally! A trophy worth bringing home

On my son’s window sill sit about six trophies from his days of playing anything from soccer to baseball, basketball to flag football. But the newest addition to his collection is the one that should mean the most.

Two years ago, Calvin decided he wanted to join the Cub Scouts. At that time our lives were already busy and adding another weekly meeting to our schedule seemed more like a chore at first. So to be sure it would be time well spent, I ask Cal if he would stick with it once he got started. He was so excited that we were even thinking about letting him join, that the answer to that question was easy to see by the wide grin on his face.

I can’t say enough about what Cub Scouts has done for my little guy. He sees the world much differently after the lessons learned and the good deeds done.

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Longest National Anthem delays lunch, but highlights reasons to be thankful moving into the politics of 2017

Last Thanksgiving, some of you may recall the football game that kicked off with what may be the longest-ever version of the National Anthem. Though it is typically around two minutes, legendary singer Aretha Franklin stretched the song to a full four minutes and 35 seconds before a matchup between the Lions and the Vikings.

On that day I was at the end of the line for a Thanksgiving feast and very hungry. The television was on in the background leading up to the game when I had finally gotten my massive plate full of Thanksgiving food and sat down to eagerly feast.

I didn’t even notice what was on the television across the room, and neither did anyone else, except for my seven-year-old son. I shoveled the first heaping fork full of food into my mouth to kick off one of my favorite meals of the year.

I quickly scooped up my next fork full but stopped with the food halfway to my mouth when I saw my son, sitting up on his knees in his chair beside me with his hand over his heart watching the waving American flag on the television.

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Top stories of 2016

Our web site keeps track of the stories that generate the most interest and at the end of the year we like to review the top stories to gain insight into how to better serve readers of our web and print content and our radio listeners. Plus, it is always fun to see which story comes out on top. To revisit all of these favorite web stories and videos in the last year, look for “2016 top stories of the year” on the right side of this web page. In addition to these top posts, other noteworthy drivers of web traffic in 2016 included the Ohio and Pro Farmer crop tours, the Ohio State Fair livestock show results, and Between the Rows. Weather challenges, the tough farm economy, all things draft horse, and farm technology also garnered major web traffic in the last 12 months. Here are the 10 most popular stories of 2016.

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A Farmer’s Christmas List

Dear Santa,

I’m not sure what I have done wrong, but corn prices seem worse than a lump of coal these days. Am I on your good list this year? Just in case, here is a list I hope you find me worthy of.

#1 A normal growing season (I don’t know what normal is but a little rain in July will be appreciated)

#2 A mild calving season (I know the timing is all my fault but anything above 25 degrees would be great)

#3 I like my iron dealer and all, but if I didn’t have to call him for service more than once next year that’d be alright.

#4 Please be sure that part needed for #3 is in stock.

#5 For an understanding landlord that knows I am doing my best for them and me, in that order.

#6 Please change “landlord” to “consumer” for this one.

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Frozen rain barrel? Don’t get caught out in the cold — like me.

“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” –Mark Twain

It got pretty cold this past weekend. When it gets cold, water freezes. When water freezes, things break. That was almost the case with a large rain collection tank at my home recently, though a bit of rushing around helped get things thawed.

In the back of the barn sits an old farm chemical tank that’s been repurposed to collect water from the barn’s gutters. Now this isn’t your everyday lean-to — this barn is a classic lofted tin-roofed, red-painted barn of old. Abundant roof area means abundant rainwater. Why not take advantage of that naturally condensed source? It’s amazing how much water a quick shower has in it when collected across a large roof.

Before things froze over a week ago, I was toying with the out spout connection of the tank ahead of the freeze hoping to get it off completely.

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The wilds of Ohio

As the end of the year draws near, we take a look back at the web posts that have done well over the last 12 months. Since the initial post about the possibility of crossbred coyotes that grow larger and could be more aggressive in Ohio’s fields and forests in 2014, it has become among the most popular on our web site. We continue to get comments and photos sent in from interested Ohio residents. Among them is Aaron from Southern Ohio Trail Cam Videos in Clermont County who has captured these incredible pictures of a large coyote in the area. Check these out and keep us posted about the residents of the wilds of Ohio.coyote

coyote2

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The ugliest Christmas tree

‘Tis the season for cutting Christmas trees on the Reese family farm.

We work very hard on our farm to grow nice looking Christmas trees, but anyone who has searched for the perfect tree knows that not all trees are created equal.

I spend many hours this time of year with families carefully pondering their perfect Christmas tree choice, strolling through the rows of manicured trees on the farm. I see families who let the youngest pick out the tree; for many families mom has 51% of the vote; other families alternate from year to year who picks the tree. None of those perfect trees are really perfect, but they are perfect for the families that pick them (unless they get one that is too big for the room). In the end, the decorated trees are all beautiful not because they are decorated perfectly, but because of the process of the decorating, the people who participated and the home in which it resides.

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Hot dog! Consumers want to know how the sausage is made

I am all about transparency. I have said for years that the agriculture industry should be run like a Subway shop. Let me see how my food is being made and let me have a say in how its made.

But how far can this transparency idea go. What is the limit? Well, I think we’ve found it.

For years I have enjoyed, as millions of other Americans have, a hot dog right off of the grill, nestled in a bun and doused with ketchup and mustard. If you are a bit adventurous maybe add some relish and if that doesn’t faze you put a little chili on that puppy! But, for please don’t tell me what is in that thing!

As a kid, I didn’t care what the ingredients of a hot dog were. I ran as fast as I could after every T-ball game to get that delicious reward.

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A Farmer’s Thanksgiving Prayer

The harvest is finally done

The bins are packed full

Same can’t be said for my wallet

After this year that’s for sure

 

But the bills are all paid

And the equipment is clean

It’s getting hard to stay awake

But I’m still just living the dream

 

It may not be worth it

To fight the bad luck and weather

But those things don’t matter much

When the family is back together

 

After living in the field

Through the harvest and the chores

There’s no better place to be

Than through that front door

 

I do have quite a lot

Considering how I make a living

My prayers have all been answered

But I’ll save one for Thanksgiving

 

Dear Lord God in Heaven

Not sure exactly what I did

For a hard working, loving wife

And this house full of kids

 

Please don’t think for a second

That I have what I deserve

Just know that I am thankful

And it’s You that I’ll continue to serve

 

Amen

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Poultry documentary filmed at the Ohio Expo Center debuts this week on CMT

“Look at you. You are a warrior,” is not typically a phrase one would utter to a chicken, unless, that is, you are considered Chicken People.

There are few places where more of these birds of a feather flock together than the Ohio National Poultry Show held at the Ohio Expo Center each November — the PERFECT place to film portions of the new Chicken People movie that will have its broadcast premiere on Wednesday, Nov. 23 on Country Music Television (CMT) at 8 p.m.

The film is described as a “charming, critically acclaimed CMT documentary about the colorful and hugely competitive world of champion show chicken breeders…A real life ‘Best in Show,’ but about chickens, the film follows the struggles and triumphs of both humans and their feathered muses on the road to compete at the Ohio National Poultry Show, considered the Westminster of Chickens. Chicken may be just food for most people, but raising the perfect chicken is an all-consuming passion for some.”

Indeed. 

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A loss for agriculture on Election Day

When an election season includes a vote for President, the issues that are further down the ballot rarely get any attention. That is the case for a ballot initiative, “Question 3”, proposed in Massachusetts that will make it illegal to sell veal, pork or eggs from animals that have been confined to crates or cages of a certain size. The recent passage of that initiative is a blow to not only agriculture in that state, but around the country.

“The legislation not only banned those practices in Massachusetts, but it also bans any products from being sold in the state that came from operations that used those housing methods,” said Hannah Thomson-Weeman, communications director for the Animal Agriculture Alliance. “Massachusetts is not a big ag state and it only has one farm that has cages for their laying hens, which is why activists groups chose to put this type of legislation on the ballot there.”

The Humane Society of the United States was the main driver of this initiative investing over $2 million, over 90% of the funds raised for backing this plan, outspending the opposition by a rate of 10 to one.

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The roles (and realities) of rural America show up at the polls

Once again this week, the massive rift between philosophies, values and political priorities was gashed wide open. Half of the nation was left lamenting and pledging to flee to Canada and the other half was silently smirking at their televisions as newscasters tried to veil their confusion and outrage while blinking back tears to preserve their liberal media makeup jobs.

A quick glance though social media indicates that many on the losing side of this election feel votes were cast out of hate, fear, ignorance, and malice and that is the direction this country is now heading. The winning side seems to think finally things are on the right track to moving away from hate, fear, ignorance and malice.

This election very clearly had no perfect candidates running for President, but no election ever has. Regardless of which candidate you voted for, I don’t think you voted because you hate anyone, or because you are ignorant or because you harbor an underlying malice for anyone.

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Reason for farmer’s arrest a pile of crap

Some events in the satire article below did actually happen. Read about it here. Now enjoy what should have happened.

A Warren County man, who normally delivers horse manure to others in the area as a fertilizer, made a special delivery recently.

About 6 yards of horse waste was piled high in front of one of the county’s Political Party Headquarters just days before the Presidential elections, causing quite a stink in the Lebanon area.

“The way I see it, some of these candidates are giving us a big pile of crap and I wanted to return the favor,” said the manure connoisseur. “I just can’t figure out what I did wrong.”

Surveillance cameras caught the man in the act, but the steaming heap of fertilizer was proof enough of the wrongdoing.

“If this man would have followed the new laws laid out in Ohio recently, none of this would have been a problem,” said an environmental representative.

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Two undefeated teams going into Friday night

My home community will see something tonight that everybody should be a part of. Schools from opposite sides of the county have found themselves entering week 10 of high school football undefeated — and that one regular game left in the schedule just happens to be against each other. Just to sweeten the pot, the conference division title hangs in the balance.

As a proud alumnus of Benjamin Logan Local Schools, one of the sides of the night’s coin toss, I’m always proud to call myself a Raider. I’m especially proud tonight as I venture to enemy turf to see the boys of fall battle it out with the Indian Lake Lakers, who might as well be the team up north for all we’re concerned. I’m sure the same sentiment holds true for the other side of the field.

The Bellefontaine Examiner, our local newspaper, may have said it best when their headline read: ‘HISTORIC BATTLE AWAITS LAKERS, RAIDERS.’

“This will be the biggest game these kids have been a part of,” said the Ben Logan head coach, Jeff Fay, to the Examiner.

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Beware the harvest ghost!

 This All Hallows’ Eve go outside and I swear,

If you look to the fields you’ll see them out there.

Spooks, ghouls and gremlins flourish in the fields,

that odd floating lights and low grumbles yield.

With their sharp gnashing teeth and sleepless vampires,

They revel in the crop fields ‘tween the telephone wires.

Haunting and howling with an unearthly glow,

They ravage the landscape between the fencerows.

At dusk rows of rustling crops stand stalwart ‘til last light,

Then the beasts roar in and feast through the night.

But it’s not those long evil autumn nights that scare me the most —

It’s the empty fields that remain filled with silent harvest ghosts!

Harvest ghost2

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So God made a grain cart driver

A few years ago, a Super Bowl commercial put the American farmer at the forefront of many conversations the following morning as Ram Trucks put Paul Harvey’s reading of “So God Made a Farmer” with a montage of pictures of farmers doing what they do everyday.

But, even with the farmer getting this much deserved recognition, there is still one group of workers on the farm that need some thanks and praise this time of year. This post is for them.

So God made a grain cart driver

On the 8th day, God looked at his paradise and thought…

“I need a man that can be responsible for the mistakes that everyone makes. I need a man that is expected to read minds and a man that is to be everywhere he is expected twice as fast as possible.”

So God made a grain cart driver.

God said…

“This man will have to be patient, for he will get his butt chewed like he’s a dog, for simply not being able to see because of the glare of the Sun.

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