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Ty Higgins

I was born and raised on a dairy farm in Licking County. Using the “its who you know” and “seize an opportunity” mantras, I started my farm broadcasting career right out of high school at WRFD-AM, thanks to my uncle Scott Higgins introducing me to then Farm Director Joe Cornely.

From there my radio path took me to Columbus country music station WHOK-FM, where I was known as Tyler Jacobs for over 12 years. Eventually I ended up right where I started and where I am most comfortable, back in farm broadcasting – using my real name!

I became a member of The Ohio Ag Net team in 2010 and I am proud to share the great stories about Ohio Agriculture, one broadcast at a time.

I currently live in Delaware County, where I am raising one boy and one girl, with my wife Angela. When I am not coaching my son’s baseball team or rehearsing for my role in my daughter’s dance recital (pictures if you want them), I am grilling, golfing and doing whatever may be on my “honey-do” list at any given moment.

A rut of a different nature this fall

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

Right about this time of year, my social media feed begins to go from farmers cheering the end of harvest directly to pictures taken from the tree stand right before they fell asleep as “The Big One” passed by.

This year has been an exception though as harvest drags on and, from what I am gathering on Facebook, the only rutting going on is in some very soggy corn and soybean fields and mud slinging is lasting well past election season!

They say misery loves company, so I asked some of my social media buddies if I could share their 2018 harvest woes. As you will see, if you are one of the farmers that got caught playing in the mud you are in good company.

These troubles aren’t just being seen in Ohio. John Kingery from Iowa posted this video to his Facebook page.

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Support Dairy Farmers & Your Community with the #10GallonChallenge

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

As a farm broadcaster, I sometimes feel helpless as I report on all of the challenges our farmers across the country are facing these days. Among those struggling the most are dairy farmers. Because of major issues beyond their control, most dairies will find it impossible to make a profit this year. I realized there is something we all can do to help that will mooove milk and help others around our community in the process. I hope you will join me in taking the #10GallonChallenge!

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A multi-hybrid symbol of patriotism

By Ty Higgins, The Ohio Ag Net

It must have been quite a sight for Joe Singleton and his son as they flew over the beautiful mid-season landscape of Darke and Preble Counties, but among the thousands of acres of lush corn and soybean fields, something extraordinary caught their eyes — a multi-hybrid American Flag.

After they posted the picture on Facebook, I had to find out who this field belonged to. It didn’t take long thanks to some social media friends.

“We have a John Deere corn planter that was capable of doing something like this and I have seen other farms do some creative things with it,” said Bill Meyer, who farms the 50-acre field all decked out in stars and stripes. “I was pretty confident with this particular field’s performance and I thought we could do something fun and the American Flag was the first thing that popped in my head.”

Meyer didn’t know how long it would be until somebody noticed.

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As you go north in Ohio, things go south


By Ty Higgins

For the past two weeks, I have been contacted about the woes that farmers are facing in northern Ohio. Cold and wet conditions well into May have pushed back planting progress in a part of the state that is becoming use to this type of pressure.

“We are just about a week later than last year,” said Wood County farmer Kris Swartz on his Cab Cam video earlier this week. “We have seen this type of spring so much over the past 4 years that I think this is becoming our new norm.”

Swartz has made some nice progress since getting started with his planting season late last week. He is finished with corn and about halfway through with the soybeans. But as you drive around his area it is easy to see that many producers have not been so fortunate.

As I made my way to Swartz’ farm on May 30th, I decided to do a mini crop tour, of sorts, so I stopped in each county on the way up Route 23 and I-75 to compare just how things deteriorated the further north I headed.

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Young farmers gaining ground

By Ty Higgins

One of the most popular statistics thrown around about agriculture is that the average age of the American farmer is 58. Although this figure is causing some anxiety in the industry, my journeys throughout the 2018 planting season has me focusing on another stat. After hopping into tractor cabs all over the state, I realized that my random stops had me, a 40-year-old, feeling a little older than I normally do on a given day of hanging out with producers.

After riding along with Roger Tobias (25), Reggie Rose (26) and Owen Niese (23) it would be hard to convince me that only 2% of established farmers in America are less than 35 years of age. Equally as difficult would be to convince these young farmers that there is no future for them in agriculture.

“The past 3 to 4 years we have really taken off in the size of the operation,” said Tobias, who farms in Pickaway, Madison, Richland and Ashland Counties.

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The mystery of the Ohio FFA jacket in Italy

There are many diverse paths that lead Ohio FFA members to the organization and even more paths that will take them far beyond their FFA years. The one thing they will all have in common, forever, is the pride of donning that signature blue corduroy jacket.

As we get ready to highlight thousands of these young people next month at the Ohio FFA Convention, I found out about one of those legendary jackets that may have chosen a path all its own.

One of my friends on Facebook posted about her brother-in-law taking a trip to Florence, Italy, and noticing a fellow walking the streets in what wouldn’t be an unusual sight here in the U.S. — an FFA jacket. What made this jacket even more fascinating was where it was from. The back of the jacket had the great state of Ohio embroidered on it and below the FFA logo was the same exact school where my Facebook friend had graduated, as well as my Mom and Dad — Northridge High School in Licking County.

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A farmer’s promise and a farm wife’s revenge

When corn was up above the eight dollar mark,

Our relationship still had a red hot spark.

Cash was a flowin’ and the bank account full,

The markets kept feeding that corn hungry bull.

 

One day my wife asked if we could knock down a wall,

And add to our house which she thought was too small.

I told her we would but first things come first,

We needed new farm gear, since ours was the worst.

 

I will build you more room, I told her with glee,

After we get that tractor, I thought honestly.

But after that buy, I must’ve been bored,

‘Cause I then built a place for the tractor to be stored.

 

Those new wheels have a nicer place than me to reside,

My wife yelled at me, thinking I had lied.

I promised again about the addition,

Which would include a new porch and a chef’s dream kitchen.

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Mr. President, do not take farm vote for granted

I know that many people involved in agriculture, myself included, were thrilled to see President Donald Trump take time out of his very busy schedule to visit the American Farm Bureau Federation Annual Meeting in Nashville in January.

In that speech, we found out that the President is hearing about and working on so many issues that will affect farm country. From a new farm bill, to NAFTA, immigration reform, infrastructure, or countless regulations that are currently hindering progress in our industry, Mr. Trump mentioned the many woes facing agriculture as he spoke directly to thousands of farmers and ranchers from that stage in Music City.

The elephant in the room when it comes to rural America and politics at the highest levels of government is whether President Trump will truly take into account why he holds the title of Commander-In-Chief. If not for farm country, the oval office décor would have a completely different vibe.

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Where are the “You Been Farming Long” boys now?

This picture is one of the most iconic pictures in the history of agriculture. Back in the early 80s you couldn’t go to a farm house, implement dealer or sale barn without seeing this poster somewhere on the wall. Seeing it recently for the first time in a long time piqued my curiosity and I wanted to know what ever happened to these two boys (who are in there 40s now)? So I Googled it. Here is what I found.

One of the first links that popped up was a Pinterest posting from 2009. The mother of the two bib-donning photo stars, Deni Overton, wrote about how the picture came to be and the interest it garnered for years to come. She wrote:

Have you seen this picture before?

I took this picture of my twin sons in September, 1978.

Did you know that it is one of the most recognized posters in history?

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Oh, to be that farmer

Recently, I was riding along with a young farmer in his old pickup truck. The one he fixed up as a project in college, but didn’t have the heart or the funds to let it go. The only difference between now and when he bought it is what’s in the bed. It was mostly empty, until toys and sports gear from his kids started to pile up back there.

We were traversing through a part of his county that I had not been through before. I was fixated on the dust trail behind us from a rarely traveled township road and he was looking straight ahead. That is, until he caught sight of a farmstead that would draw any farmer’s attention.

Two humongous grain legs connected more bins than one could count while driving by, with a few more possibly tucked in behind the monstrous ones.

“Oh, to be that farmer,” said the young farmer as he looked at me.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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