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Submerged soybeans in Fairfield County in June.

Top Stories of 2015

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, visit ocj.com and look for “2015 top stories of the year” on the right side of the page. In addition to these top posts, other noteworthy drivers of web traffic in 2015 included the Ohio and Pro Farmer crop tours, the Ohio State Fair livestock show results, and Between the Rows. Weather challenges, unusual Ohio wildlife, 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 2015.

1. Which cat are you actually seeing in the woods in Ohio?

Reports of unusual sightings of big cats are not uncommon throughout the United States and Ohio. From celebrities like Uncle Si of Ducky Dynasty professing to have seen a large panther-like black cat to friends and neighbors quietly professing to have seen such a cat or its tracks in Ohio, it is certain that the Buckeye State is not excluded with regard to sightings of large cats in the wild. Kim Lemmon’s late 2014 look at the mysterious large cats apparently prowling around Ohio generated an incredible response from Internet readers topping all other stories from 2015. The story itself is quite interesting, but the comments that follow are priceless and well worth reading to see just how many Ohioans have spotted a mysterious feline in the wilds of Ohio.

2. A farmer’s story

This straightforward story from Richard Flax from Clark County about his life-threatening experience in a grain bin last winter is a must read for anyone working around grain storage facilities. It only takes a moment to unwittingly put your life in danger. The story covers what Richard admits he did wrong, but also what was done right to turn a possible tragedy into a success story and a warning for others. Thanks to Richard for sharing his powerful story.

3. Update on Coy Wolf sighting in Ohio

Are there crosses between coyotes and wolves roaming the rural areas of Ohio? There is evidence to suggest that is the case and we have photos to prove it. There are clearly plenty of people around the state interested in the topic and other mysteries of Ohio wildlife.

4. Farmer uses comic relief to overcome challenges

When Ross County farmer Adam Garman was growing up, if someone was laughing around him it was usually at his expense due to his speech impediment. Now he uses his stutter that was the source of his former ridicule to bring laughter to others as he has begun a secondary career moonlighting as a comedian around his day job at his family’s feed and supply business. “I’d be a lot funnier if I didn’t have this speech impediment,” Garman said. “But since I do have it the audience just has to wait a bit longer for that punch line.”

5. Advice from grandpa keeping many farms in business

As tough times continue for agriculture, there is much to be learned in sage advice from yesteryear. Multi-generational farm operations have some inherent challenges, but there are plenty of benefits to having grandpa around for advice. For Niese Farms in Richland and Crawford Counties, having the experience of three generations is paying dividends as the farm navigates these challenging times.

6. Still farming at 88 with no signs of stopping

Although we can never stop thinking about how agriculture needs to look in the future, some of the greatest assets have been around for a while. Ty Higgins stopped by a half-harvested soybean field in Shelby County this fall and jumped in a John Deere combine that was being piloted by 88-year-old Bernard Clinehens. In his lifetime, Clinehens has seen a Great Depression, a Dust Bowl, a Prohibition, multiple wars, two new states, and a boom in technology — both on and off of the farm — that changed the way we live today. Who wouldn’t want to learn from someone like that?

7. Confessions of a former tree hugger

Alan Walter refers to himself as a “tree hugger” when he first purchased his hilly, heavily wooded property in Harrison County. Since then, with all of the time Walter spent in the woods, he had plenty of opportunities to ponder his long-term objectives for the property. He wanted to manage the woods to produce big trees, improve water quality, stabilize the soil, increase wildlife and plant diversity, and improve the aesthetics. With these goals in mind, Walter found himself implementing management practices and making on-farm decisions that would have been unthinkable during his former “tree hugger” mindset.

8. The Buckeye Cowboy — Kirby Hidy

In 2015, we lost our friend and co-worker Kirby Hidy, who was clearly loved by many in agriculture. After his passing, Ty wrote a beautiful tribute for Kirby that was read and enjoyed by his many friends in Ohio agriculture.

9. FAA proposes rule for small drone operation

The last year was one of technological changes in agriculture. New technology, including drones, offers nearly limitless opportunity, but also new challenges. How do we manage all of this data effectively and responsibly to derive actual on-farm improvements? This story focused on the confusing rules and legalities of drone use on the farm as laws are struggling to keep up with rapid changes in technology.

10. Not-so-scenic drive around NW Ohio

In July, Ty and I got the chance to do an impromptu tour of some of the worst hit areas of Ohio after a soggy, flood-filled spring and early summer. The resulting pictures looked very bad, but still could not fully capture how awful the crops looked in some areas after some of the most challenging conditions seen in a lifetime on farms in the area.

Field along the Miami River. Photo by Doug Longfellow.
Field along the Miami River. Photo by Doug Longfellow.

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