David Brandt did not even know what a meme was until he found out he was one.
“I didn’t know anything about it until I went to the bank, probably a year and a half ago or so, and one of the tellers says, ‘You’re a meme.’ And I said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’” Brandt said. “She showed it to me on her phone and she says, ‘What do you think?’ and I said, ‘Well I guess somebody took my picture. I should have got it registered or something. Maybe I could have made some money off of it.’”
For those not familiar, a meme is a cultural piece of media that is shared online, often with the intention of invoking certain emotions, usually being humorous. For those who use them, memes are immediately recognizable ways to convey different spins on a common theme or thought.
A meme featuring a photo of Brandt taken at a Natural Resources Conservation Service event on his farm in 2012 with the phrase “It ain’t much but it’s honest work” has become a global symbol of traditional values and work ethic. … Continue reading
The concern around keeping Ohio’s best farmland in agricultural production is not a new one. Our state has a long history of paving over productive soils in favor of “progress” in the form of parking lots, strip malls and whatever other whims developers dream up. Certainly, some of this (or maybe even most) development has real value and benefits to the state and local communities. Each acre of productive farmland lost, though, erodes our society’s future ability to produce food, fuel and fiber, along with the agrarian heritage of the community.
Agricultural lands sequester carbon, produce oxygen, allow for water infiltration, provide wildlife habitat, have aesthetic appeal, and offer value to communities in ways which rooftops, concrete and asphalt cannot. Farms generate tax revenue with low costs to the community. Development brings additional burdens to existing infrastructure such as roads, schools and water systems.
While this has been an issue for many generations, the topic of farmland preservations seems to have gained some urgency in ag circles in the last couple of years.… Continue reading
It seems like a simple question with an easier answer: do farmers have a right to repair their own tractors?
We do live in a complicated world, though, as indicated by the answer to this question: maybe, sometimes, it depends. And, in some cases, as it turns out, the answer is no.
This right-to-repair issue becomes particularly challenging for the many farms that have invested heavily in the ability to wrench on equipment on-site to save valuable time and money when inevitable issues arise with farm equipment. Those farm shops, tools and know-how do not come cheap, but have been built by generations to set the stage for necessarily quick and cost-saving equipment repairs, especially during planting and harvest. The increasingly challenging task of on-farm equipment repair in the wake of rapidly advancing proprietary technology has been a growing source of frustration in recent years.
I have long enjoyed travelling Ohio and admiring the beautiful historic barns dotting the state’s rural landscape. They are simultaneously symbols of our agricultural heritage, a demonstration of incredible human ingenuity and uniquely nostalgic. Maybe the most notable examples of this are the rare round barns, of which Ohio has several.
I know a trip to the Fairfield County Fair is not complete without a stroll through the round dairy barn. At least as impressive, though much less visited, is a 16-sided, 60-foot-tall barn on the Workley farm in Harrison County, nestled in the Appalachian woodlands. And no Ohio round barn conversation can be complete without referencing the incredible structure on the Manchester farm in Auglaize County.
My friend Robert Kroeger, who I call “Bob the Barn guy,” has been hard at work again documenting round barns to help preserve their historic significance through his painting and story-telling.… Continue reading
Another layer of dust had gathered on the aging shoebox full of unopened Christmas cards, 22 in total. His wife got the box out and left it on the kitchen table this time of year, waiting for the arrival of the next one and watching with pleading eyes in the hope that Mack would finally open them.
The dusty box added to the gloom of Mack’s dismal day. Earlier in the week he had to sell off another chunk of the family farm at auction. Some investment group out west bought it online.
He had sold a couple small parcels in recent years, both to local farmers. This one really hurt — 250 acres of the best ground he had — but he got a really good price and he did not have another generation coming along to farm it anyway. He knew selling it was the best thing to do as his days farming were winding down, but he still didn’t feel good about it. … Continue reading
We are a tight knit bunch at Ag Net Communications. You may have noticed some staff additions recently, which is kind of like a second family for me. We welcomed back Joel Penhorwood, who has been helping with video, radio and print. We also added two new marketing specialists we are very excited about working with: Joe Everett and Kristin Flowers.
At the same time, OCJ and Ohio Ag Net Marketing Specialist Risë Labig has announced her upcoming retirement. During the last 10 years, Risë has re-invented the job description for our sales team, always going the extra mile for her clients and thinking outside the box for ways we can better serve them. Most days my email in-box contains a note from Risë on something I can do to help better serve her clients in some way. And with her persistent urging we have done just that. … Continue reading
It was a year of traditions and anniversaries at the Farm Science Review.
First, the event itself celebrated an impressive 60 years of highlighting the latest in agricultural innovations.
“The Ohio State University has been involved in the development and research of many practices — including no-till planting and implementation of the round bale — that are widely adopted on farms today,” said Nick Zachrich, FSR manager. “While many attending Farm Science Review this year will not remember farming as it was 60 years ago, we hope this is a year to reflect on how much the industry has advanced so that excitement will build for the future knowing how rapid technology is shaping many areas of our industry.”
I would think attendees at the first FSR could scarcely image the technology on display including an amazing flying ATV, a giant variable rate application manure spreader and innovative seed treatment technology (highlighted in some of the Latest Videos on ocj.com).… Continue reading
What a beautiful, almost unprecedented stretch of nearly ideal harvest weather! After a late start to harvest, great weather through most of the first half of October allowed Ohio’s farmers to make up the difference and catch up to the 5-year average harvest progress for Ohio. By Oct. 16, 24% of Ohio’s corn was harvested for grain, compared to the 5-year average of 25%. On the same date, the state’s soybeans were 51% harvested in 2022 and the 5-year average was 52%, according to the USDA NASS Ohio Field Office. The timing of this big push for harvest progress coincided with some stunning fall foliage around Ohio. With so much potential for beautiful autumn harvest photos out there (and many cell phones handy for capturing them), we asked for folks from around the state to send us some. There was a tremendous response with so many beautiful photos! I wanted to share a few on this page.… Continue reading
It’s all about relationships — even your farm. Whether it is with the brother, son, or daughter you work side-by-side with, the neighbor at the coffee shop, the mechanic you trust to work on your equipment, the seed dealer, the agronomist, the banker — it all boils down to relationships. On a farm, it is easy to get bogged down within the boundaries of the ground you farm, but there is so much beyond those borders that has a direct impact upon it. Relationships matter there too.
For this reason, relationships formed through involvement in farm organizations and advocacy also matter. This is at the heart of the recent trip by the Ohio Farm Bureau to Washington, D.C.
Finally, after the trip was cancelled last spring due to COVID restrictions, the Ohio Farm Bureau county presidents were able to meet with legislators and lobby for Ohio agriculture in our nation’s capital.… Continue reading
Wow! This September marks 30 years of Ohio’s Country Journal, a publication that, from the beginning, has been focused on Ohio agriculture. Right from the start, many recognized that, to be part of the conversation amongst Ohio’s farmers, OCJ needed to be included in the discussion. For recently retired John Sites, there was no question about it.
“I started with Great Plains in 1990. At that time, if you listened to the radio, you definitely wanted to be involved with Ed Johnson and Bart Johnson. All the farmers and dealers and everybody I was working with at that time, they knew Ed Johnson, and everyone understood you had to be part of his program. Great Plains was excited to get on board really early with the OCJ and the advertising in print because that was what the farmer was reading and we wanted our name in that paper when it got to his mailbox for sure.… Continue reading
I just drove by another cardboard sign duct-taped to a wooden stake with the words “No solar” scrawled out in black magic marker along the road. I wonder if the maker of the sign considered the implications of the sign’s request for local landowners.
Make no mistake, I have no great love for solar (nor do I own enough land to have a stake in the game). The battle for the preservation of farmland is a crucial issue, and Ohio is on the front lines. Houses, strip malls, solar panels, wind energy, landfills, industry, roadways, waste treatment — the list of potential demands for land could go on almost endlessly. There is a valid need for each use, but in reality, there is only so much land.
Ahhhh ice cream! June is dairy month, so it seems like an excellent reason to enjoy ice cream with a bit more regularity than usual. And, in 1984, President Ronald Reagan decided July should be National Ice Cream Month, with the third Sunday of the month being National Ice Cream Day. As such, it seems perfectly reasonable that June’s increased ice cream consumption should obviously be continued thorough next month as well. As it stands, ice cream is a dietary staple for many farms around Ohio. I know for many years the Schwan’s delivery guy had a standing weekly order with my grandpa to refill the deep freeze in the old summer kitchen on the farm. Grandpa was not an agrarian outlier. Carrying on the family tradition, I am a guy who certainly enjoys ice cream as well. Growing up (and still) my personal favorite is Dietsch Brothers Ice Cream in Findlay.… Continue reading
Ohio has a unique history with breweries and the agricultural production to supply them.
OCJ field reporter Brianna Gwirtz wrote a great story about hops production — a formerly fairly common crop in the state to supply a once prolific brewing industry. The ups and downs of Ohio breweries and growing conditions often ill-suited for quality hops production eliminated commercial hops in Ohio (though I will say my mother always had a hops plant in the garden when I was a kid). That has changed though, in recent years as Ohio’s brewing industry has seen a remarkable resurgence.
In doing her research for the story, Brianna also talked with Mary MacDonald, the executive director of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association and wrote up the following: When McDonald started her job in 2013, the state had a total of 58 breweries. Today there are 398 breweries in Ohio and today’s craft brewing industry employs around 9,000 people in the state.… Continue reading
There are plenty of good-natured (and sometimes not-so-good-natured) debates within agriculture. In the current climate of jaw-dropping fuel prices and skyrocketing corn prices, though, few discussions generate stronger feelings within agricultural circles than ethanol.
President Joe Biden recently announced that the Environmental Protection Agency is planning to allow E15 gasoline to be sold this summer through an emergency waiver as part of a broader plan to address soaring fuel costs. Ethanol proponents, of course, are pushing for much more, suggesting that bumping up a third of the nation’s fuel supply from 10% to 15% ethanol would help lower prices at the pump, address air quality concerns and replace oil previously imported from Russia. Ethanol opponents have come forth with the typical concerns.
Here are some facts from both sides of the debate to consider as ethanol discussions are sure to continue in 2022.
• At current prices, E15 can save about 10 cents per gallon of gas on average, and many stations sell E15 at an even greater discount. … Continue reading
I thought it was worth mentioning here that the phrase “we’re all in this together” came up twice in two separate interviews, said by two different people in different stages of life and their careers. As a result, the phrase is included in two separate, recent stories about topics focused on very different parts of the world.
I just met Joe and I’m looking forward to working with him throughout the 2022 growing season as one of our Between the Rows farmers. He farms with his family in Shelby County, the subject of a recent story. Joe was the winner of Ohio Farm Bureau’s Excellence in Agriculture Award for 2021 that recognizes successful young agricultural professionals who are actively contributing and growing through their involvement with Farm Bureau and agriculture. Joe works with his father, uncle and cousin on the family cash grain operation where they raise corn and soybeans on around 4,000 acres.… Continue reading
In 2021 a beaver dam was discovered on my family’s farm in Hancock County in Ottawa Creek, which is in the Blanchard River Watershed and part of the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed. Since then, we have yet to actually see a beaver, but we have video and photo evidence of a river otter who seems to have moved in to the dwelling.
A regular deer hunter on the property got video footage and photographs of the otter, which has caused quite a stir locally. On Jan. 28 I posted the otter video (which is really quite charming) on the farm’s Facebook page and it has gotten nearly 12,000 views. We even had a guy show up at the farm asking to go see the otter.
Imagine for a moment you and I are sitting at your local coffee shop enjoying some delicious brunch back in February of 2020. I am just enjoying a bite of my hash browns and you get really serious and look at me across the table.
“Matt, I have a couple of things I have got to tell you. You may not believe me at first, but I promise they are going to happen,” you say.
“Alright, what’s up?” I reply in between sips of coffee.
“Well, first, in the next couple of months, every church in this country is going to shut its doors to visitors,” you tell me leaning in and lowering your voice a bit.
I’d guess that my eyebrows would rise with surprise and skepticism at your statement.
“But that’s not all Matt. You may not believe this, but I’m telling the truth when I say that essential food items and things like toilet paper are going to disappear from store shelves within just a few weeks,” you tell me in a hushed tone. … Continue reading
The first issue of Ohio’s Country Journal was nearly30 years ago in September of 1992. It featured Stark County dairy farmer Mark Thomas and his tireless promotion of ethanol through his success on the race track behind the wheel of an ethanol-powered hot rod.
By 1992, Thomas had won three International Hot Rod Association (IHRA) world championships and always promoted his favorite fuel — corn ethanol. From there, Thomas’ racing career and ethanol took off. Since 1992, ethanol has been among the greatest success stories of agriculture in Ohio.
In 30 years there have been plenty of other industry-shaping developments. I have been perusing the OCJ archives in recent weeks as we work our way through year 30 and have been amazed at the massive changes that have shaped Ohio agriculture. Along with the rise of ethanol, here are some others.
Genetically modified crops
There is not much in the last three decades that has had more impact in crop fields than this topic. … Continue reading
My 4-year-old nephew Michael is well versed in the subtleties of personal advocacy. On a recent stay at his grandparents, Michael had apparently seen evidence of the need for his grandfather to deposit some checks at the bank in the near future. He asked his grandpa if he needed to make a trip to the bank that day with the checks. Delighted with the opportunity to enjoy the company of his grandson on a mundane trip into town, grandpa of course complied with the request. While it is certain that Michael enjoyed the time with his grandfather, he expressed no hesitation whatsoever in his hasty acceptance of the sucker offered up by the bank’s drive-through teller.
The world is full of people who see problems and complain about them to no avail. Michael saw a problem: no sucker. He took the steps necessary to actually amend the problem.… Continue reading
As I write this I’m listening to the cold January wind whistle in around one of the last couple of old windows in my old farmhouse. Most of the windows in the house have been replaced, but this one has not, for a couple of reasons.
Foremost, the picture window is the largest in the house and the most expensive to replace. And, well, I have been raised by generations of frugal farmers trained to make do with what you’ve already got (my grandfather was known to wear 30-year-old dress pants patched with strips of duct tape rather than purchase new farm work pants).
There is also some sentimentality with the old window not lost upon me. Years ago an older gentleman who grew up in this house long before I owned it stopped by and asked if he could come in and see the old place, and how it has changed since his time here.… Continue reading