I grew up on a small farm in northwest Ohio and spent most of my youth writing, doodling, taking pictures, reading and exploring the surrounding farmland. With a family full of teachers, I also grew up around a culture supportive of education. I was active in athletics in high school before graduating from Ohio State University where I studied agricultural communications. This led to my career in agricultural journalism.
I continue to work on the family Christmas tree farm in Hancock County. My wife, Jenna, and I live on a small farm in Fairfield County with sheep, rabbits and chickens. I have a daughter, Campbell, and a son, Parker. We are active in our local church and with numerous other organizations.
John opened up his eyes to a splitting headache. After staying out late and driving home when he shouldn’t, he’d ended up sleeping in his truck in his driveway, forehead on the steering wheel. Again.
Harvest had wrapped up by late October and it had been a good crop. It seemed like cause for celebration. But the bad decisions of the previous night had been foreshadowed by countless bad decisions of so many nights before. The downward spiral over years had led to John, in his late 30s, losing everything but the truck he slept in, his diminishing share in the family farm and an empty tenant house on the farm where he lived.
It was time for change. He started up the truck and pushed the button behind the steering wheel to reset his trip to 0. He started driving until he saw what he was looking for, right at a grass driveway splitting two fields on the farm. … Continue reading
There was a stretch where the Reese children were really into a television show called Secrets of the Zoo. For the most part, I really enjoyed watching the reality show covering the daily trials of the impressive veterinarian staff at the Columbus Zoo. It included plenty of valuable, educational information in a way the kids found to be entertaining.
As we binge watched the show, though, an underlying theme started to bother me. I could not quite put my finger on it at first, but it gradually started to dawn on me that the general premise of the show elevated the status of animals to a level approaching (or exceeding) human status. Now, I should point out, that even once this did occur to me, we continued to watch the show due to its value, but we also had a number of discussions about the hierarchy of things and my concerns with some of the themes of the show. … Continue reading
I am not sure Jesus had Ohio’s solar debate in mind when He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” but I think it certainly applies to what is happening right now on both sides of the issue.
Changes in utility scale electric generation and transmission systems have created a situation where Ohio landowners are being approached to consider leasing large tracts of ground for solar development through contracts ranging from 25 to 50 years. Certainly a loving neighbor would want financial success for others in the community. And those neighbors, if similarly loving, would of course want to do right by the wishes of those around them for the benefit of all. The current situation, though, in many unfortunate cases, pits neighbor against neighbor and is actively tearing communities and families apart.
“We have a division occurring across Ohio: Those who stand to benefit financially from a lease that would allow for solar and wind development on their land and those who don’t want it — at least not in their area,” said Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program.… Continue reading
For a few days in October, many of us take great delight in making things a bit spookier than they really are, but this type of misinformation is now immediately available year round — and it can go well beyond spooky to dangerous.
With a constantly updating news cycle featuring various media outlets vying to lure in massive advertising dollars, social media making everyone a preacher/news anchor/columnist according to their own whims and a truly vicious political climate from both sides of the aisle, gross misinformation has the opportunity to flow freely with few checks and balances.
I have gotten some questions about the rumors surrounding a “cow tax” being proposed for methane emissions. First, these rumors are not true. Second, this story is an excellent illustration for the way information can be twisted to lead to conclusions not based on reality.
Have you ever wondered if you could make it on the earliest days of some of Ohio’s historic family farms? I love the chance to look into Ohio’s past that accompanies every visit to an Ohio Century Farm, or in the case of this issue, a Bicentennial Farm. Every time I get to hear new stories about old Ohio farm days, I can’t help but wonder if I could have survived and thrived as they did.
This summer I had the chance to speak at a couple of events and my topic was, “A Century Farm perspective.” In my presentation I shared some of my very favorite Ohio Century Farm stories and the details of the lives of great toil lived by our forefathers seeking to make a better life for themselves and their descendants. We are the incredibly fortunate beneficiaries of those efforts and I believe these stories of yesteryear really can help to shape our modern perspective and help us to move forward with a bit more gratitude, humility and grace towards others. … Continue reading
So, where were you when the world stopped turning that September day? That darkest of blue sky days 20 years ago forever changed the lives of Americans and, in many cases, inspired many in our great country to take positive individual action for the sake of others.
Chris Edwards was certainly inspired to action. Edwards is a retired New York City firefighter who served for 17 years as a member of E42 and E81 in the Bronx. Though Edwards was not officially on duty that day, he was a first responder during the tragedies that surrounded the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan. He spent two weeks digging through the rubble of the World Trade Center following the attacks. Edwards has also served as a member of the Disaster Assistance Response Team that deploys during disasters to assist individuals, families and communities.… Continue reading
The Ohio State Fair was very different this year. One radical 2021 departure from years past was the creation of two Grand Drive events, showcasing all the grand drives for each species in the same event.
Taking a cue from other national caliber livestock shows, the events are designed to showcase the youth with a bit more pomp and circumstance while drawing a larger crowd and some extra bells and whistles. The State Fair featured a Grand Drive for the junior breeding livestock exhibitors on July 31 and a second Grand Drive for junior market exhibitors is coming up this weekend on Aug. 7. The events took a huge amount of planning and extensive coordinated effort from the barn staffs of the different species.
It was a tremendous amount of work, but in the end the Breeding Grand Drive event accomplished its lofty goals. There was plenty of positive feedback from Ohio State Fair barn staff and exhibitors alike.… Continue reading
On July 12, Gov. Mike DeWine signed Senate Bill 52, which limits landowner’s abilities and opportunities to have wind and solar projects on their property. This is a concern, partly due to the precedent it sets — government taking of landowner rights without the consent of the landowner.
Of greater concern for agriculture is the recently introduced House Bill 349, which takes a cue from SB 52 with direct agricultural application. HB 349 enacts “section 903.021 of the Revised Code to prohibit the construction of a new or modification by expansion of an existing concentrated animal feeding facility under certain circumstances.”
These circumstances as spelled out in the bill are:
(1) The facility is located in the Maumee watershed.
(2) The director [of agriculture] determines that, in the preceding calendar year, the spring load of total phosphorus exceeded eight hundred sixty metric tons and the total dissolved reactive phosphorus exceeded one hundred eighty-six metric tons for the Maumee river as specified in the 2015 western basin of Lake Erie collaborative agreement.… Continue reading
One of my very first memories of catching a fish was with my grandpa sitting on the bank of the family farm pond. I was using a simple cane pole with a hook, bobber and worm we’d found under a rock. I was very young, but I believe my first-ever catch was a bluegill I hauled in (likely with a fair amount of assistance) after my bobber bounced a couple of times before it “ran.”
Fast forward roughly 40 years to when my son and I were strolling through the hunting/fishing store to determine how to best spend the several gift cards he’d gotten last Christmas. The vast number of options for lures was overwhelming — divers, spinners, triple-hook rubber worms, surface lures, poppers, spoons, jigs, jitter-bugs, bass assassins, and so on. We picked out a few options to try out on and got a few other tacklebox staples. … Continue reading
The board of county commissioners may adopt a resolution designating all or part of the unincorporated area of a county as a restricted area, prohibiting the construction of any or all of the following:
(1) An economically significant wind farm;
(2) A large wind farm;
(3) A large solar facility.
This gives county commissioners the authority to take away the rights of landowners to develop wind and solar development without the consent of those landowners. Even worse, they are not required to notify affected landowners directly. Let me reiterate, they are not asking, lawmakers who voted yes on SB 52 are TAKING. … Continue reading
My 11-year-old son really enjoys inviting some of his buddies over to dig in the dirt in the backyard. So far this spring, they have already had a couple of “digging parties.” The mud was particularly extensive on a recent digging party where they went so deep they dug right through the waterline going from the house to the barn.
“I had to hit it with the shovel three or four times before water started shooting out,” one of my son’s friends told me, covered head to toe in dripping mud.
Fortunately, the hardest part of fixing a leaking water line is digging the hole, and that was already done. After baling out the hole the next day, my son and I were able to get it patched up pretty quickly. All digging party participants now know how deep is too deep to dig and that they need to bring an extra change of clothes if they want to come in for dinner. … Continue reading
We had friends over for dinner the other night just as the first signs of spring were really starting to show up in the landscape around our home. They live in town and, as they got out of their car, they commented several times on how much they “love it out here.”
I agree. I love it “out here” too. The old farmhouse we live in has its various issues (as old farmhouses do), but it is surrounded by gently rolling farm fields with a bit of pasture mixed in and swaths of woodlands. The view from our house is great, especially for sunrises and sunsets.
The wonderful view I enjoy brings value to my life, my family and my home. I appreciate it.
Yet, I have never once offered to pay the local farmers who own and manage the land around me for the value of my view.… Continue reading
It is impossible to replace the in-person experience of the Ohio FFA Convention for the students who participate, but this year’s virtual installment still had plenty of highlights and recognition for FFA members who worked to make the best of the situation.
The West Holmes FFA took things one step closer to an in-person convention by hosting FFA chapters from several counties with an in-person viewing at the Holmes County Fairgrounds. Dale Minyo served as the emcee for their FFA FUNvention. West Holmes FFA even got to celebrate their own Chase Stitzlein’s Star Farmer win together.
“We brainstormed and thought we needed to do something real for the kids. We got 18 schools together in 8 or 10 counties for an event to resemble convention,” said Jamie Chenevey, the West Holmes advisor. “We had workshops, and a session, we did a community service, we had an awards night, and a tradeshow.… Continue reading
A proposal to approve or reject the ______________ certificate or amendment issued for __________ in the unincorporated area of __________ Township, __________ County, Ohio, adopted on __________ (date) by the Board of Township Trustees of __________ Township,__________ County, Ohio.
We, the undersigned, being electors residing in the unincorporated area of __________ Township, equal to not less than eight per cent of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor in the area at the preceding general election at which a governor was elected, request the Board of Elections to submit this proposal to the electors of the unincorporated area of __________ Township for approval or rejection at a special election to be held on the day of the primary or general election to be held on __________ (date), pursuant to section 519.217 of the Revised Code.
This is language taken directly from Senate Bill 52 currently being considered by the Ohio Legislature. The… Continue reading
It was a frigid February Saturday morning when the buzzing of a string of text messages on my phone led to a sick, sad feeling in the pit of my stomach. The old family barn at my brother’s home had caught fire overnight and was a total loss.
As children, the barn — likely built in the 1870s using some of the last old growth timber in the area — was an incredible castle for play, hay fort construction and exploration. As I got older it housed 4-H projects and was the location of many hours of labor side-by-side with family. It was a place to gather with friends and a lonely perch in the haymow offered an ideal setting for youthful daydreams. As an adult, a return to the confines of the barn where generations of my ancestors toiled offered a unique comfort and cemented a deep connection with the family legacy of the property. … Continue reading
Farmers and trees have a contentious relationship. While livestock on pasture can benefit from their summer shade, there are few other practical benefits of trees on farm ground. They persistently plague fence rows, rob yields from surrounding crops and serve as highly inconvenient obstacles for farm equipment of every kind.
With this reality in mind, I always marvel when I see a lone tree standing out in the middle of a farm field. Why is it there? Each one has a different story, I’m sure. In every case, though, a striking tree standing out in the middle of a farm field is a combination of God’s magnificent handiwork and the intentionality of generations of landowners to preserve it.
Certainly among the more visible and spectacular specimens of farm field trees in Ohio was recently felled. The imposing swamp white oak tree was known by its owners as the Sentinel Oak and, by virtue of its impressive dimensions and location, was also well known by the local community in Hancock County, near Findlay.… Continue reading
The after-lunch speaker for the Ohio Pork Congress was Damian Mason who grew up on a dairy farm in Indiana and now lives half the year on the home farm and half the year in Arizona. He makes a living speaking, writing, and advising about the challenges and opportunities resulting from our culture’s growing gap between consumer and producer.
Though he had dreams of going into a career in agronomy, the ag economy in 1992 had other plans for Mason. He eventually found himself selling light fixtures in California. While living there, he won a costume contest one Halloween while dressed as Bill Clinton. This prompted an unusual transition to a career in comedy, making appearances around the country (including Ohio) as President Clinton.
“One thing comedy taught me was the reality that we all work for an audience. We have forever been stuck in this thing in agriculture where we say, ‘Well you know what?… Continue reading
We knew going into this basketball season that it was going to be a tough year for my daughter’s 7th grade team. They were stepping up in the level of competition in their league and the wins were not going to come as easily as they had the previous season, if they came at all.
There were a handful of wins, but also some losses by substantive margins. As a former coach and dad watching from the stands, I couldn’t help but notice a trend develop as the season of tough losses played out. Our girls would play well for a quarter or so, then start to make a few mistakes. A few errant passes in a row would lead to sudden panic, which would lead to more mistakes, a run from the opposition and, within a few moments, the whole team would collectively lose hope and fall far behind.… Continue reading
I’m fairly certain that no single year in recent world history has had more of a universally global impact than 2020. Nationwide and around the world, if you were alive and breathing during the previous 12 months, 2020 inevitably had a significant impact on you. No matter your profession, age, socio-economic status, regardless of where you live or who you are, we are all likely heading into 2021 with an altered perspective from a year ago. Have you changed for the better?
I think one positive change in the last year was that the role of agriculture (from farms through the supply chain) gained some valuable ground in the estimation our society in general. Many of those far removed from the daily challenges of agriculture have clearly been taking our amazing food system for granted. Those folks got a sobering wake-up call in 2020.
Ohio Farm Bureau president Frank Burkett, III alluded to this in his comments reflecting on 2020 while heading into the organization’s virtual annual meeting in December.… Continue reading
In one of my favorite books, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis has some advice that hits very close to home as we muddle our way through the astonishing early days of 2021.
Suppose one reads a story of filthy atrocities in the paper. Then suppose that something turns up suggesting that the story might not be quite true, or not quite so bad as it was made out. Is one’s first feeling, ‘Thank God, even they aren’t quite so bad as that,’ or is it a feeling of disappointment, and even a determination to cling to the first story for the sheer pleasure of thinking your enemies are as bad as possible? If it is the second then it is, I am afraid, the first step in a process which, if followed to the end, will make us into devils. You see, one is beginning to wish that black was a little blacker.… Continue reading