Thanks to those who make farming look simple, even when its not

A few years ago my uncle got a new farm truck. He searched long and hard for a new model with as few electronic gadgets and gizmos as possible. No power seats, windows or locks, or AC. The truck has standard transmission and certainly no heated seats or heated steering wheels. He even has to turn the knob on the radio for goodness sakes. Why would anyone purposely subject themselves to such personal calamity?

The answer: all that fancy stuff breaks, and it can’t be fixed in the farm shop. Power windows, for example, are very convenient until they happen to go out when you are trying to pay at a drive-through window in a torrential downpour. Then they are frustrating, unpleasant and expensive to fix (speaking from personal experience).

As I get older I continue to gain more appreciation for non-fancy, basic stuff that really works the way it is supposed to.… Continue reading

Read More »

Miniature horses: Age is just a number

When browsing the Internet and Facebook, I often see advertisements in which people are looking for a miniature horse for their children. The advertisements often read similar to this:

“In search of a miniature horse for my young child. My child is a beginner. We need a very safe horse that leads and rides and is trustworthy. Nothing more than 13 years old.”

I usually become frustrated when I read these advertisements because I believe that due to a lack of knowledge about miniature horses these folks are often overlooking older miniature horses that can be active and work for many years to come.

I never understand their unwillingness to consider older or even senior miniature horses, because in my experience, miniature horses can often live longer and more actively into their senior years than their larger equine counterparts.

I myself have miniature horses of all ages, but I greatly appreciate and rely on my horses that are nearer in age to 20 than 10.… Continue reading

Read More »

Barn cats and drugs are hard to keep out, especially after you let them in

On the colder days during the winter months, we have a group of barn cats that crowd up near the front door of our house, hoping to sneak in to enjoy the warmer temperatures at the next opportunity. In the barn they have proven repeatedly to be valuable assets. In the house and under foot, however, they are irksome beasts.

Despite the fact that they have access to a cozy barn with a well-stocked haymow perfect for snuggling in on a cold winter afternoon, one too many trips into the house as kittens courtesy of our children has provided ample experience and know-how concerning the logistics of infiltrating the front door. The worst two feline culprits are Sister (named by our daughter as a hopeful hint suggesting a possible family expansion a few years back) and Auto-steer (named by our son based upon his love for all things farm). These two female tiger cats prowl the front step and wait for any entrance or exit from the house by a person not paying complete attention to the task of keeping the cats out.… Continue reading

Read More »

Manage the weather risk to avoid uncertainty: What to watch for in 2016

I went into this winter with the most firewood ever. I was ready to take on winter’s worst after battling multiple severe winters with a less than adequate firewood arsenal in the past.

But, due to what has been a fairly mild season, it looks that I will have a head start on next year. I can give my chainsaw a bit of a rest in part thanks to the El Niño this winter that been shaping the weather patterns throughout the Midwest.

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an El Niño develops when sea surface temperatures are warmer than average in the equatorial Pacific for an extended period of time. In El Niño winters, the polar jet stream is typically farther north than usual, while the Pacific jet stream remains to the south.

With the Midwest positioned between the storm tracks, warmer and drier conditions can develop during El Niño winters and typical extreme cold weather may be milder and less frequent.… Continue reading

Read More »

Sunday morning mutton bustin’ makes for unique “elevator speech”

We have a new pastor at church and he was walking through the congregation prior to the service last Sunday morning and he stopped to say, “Hello.” He looked down at my six-year-old son and said, “Pleased to meet you, what is your name?”

Rather than sharing his name, my son said, “I went mutton bustin’ — I rode the ram in the barn today before church.”

“Oh really,” the pastor said.

“Yep, his name is Big Poppa. I wore my snowboarding helmet.”

The pastor stopped and looked up at me with a questioning glance. “Is this real? What he is talking about?”

“Yes it is,” I said. “He was helping his mother with chores this morning and she let him ride on the back of the Horned Dorset ram in the barn. He did wear his snowboarding helmet.”

Even after the countless conversations he had with churchgoers that day I am pretty sure that one will be remembered for a while.… Continue reading

Read More »

Even the biggest football game depends on agriculture

For those of us in agriculture, it is easy to see all of the ways that farmers, and what they produce, make our lives a bit easier to live. From the jeans we wear to the food we eat, there are an unlimited amount of products we use everyday that are taken for granted.

Heck, even the Big Game on Sunday wouldn’t be the same if not for agriculture. I’m not talking about the nachos and cheese or hot dogs served up at the game’s concession stand, or even the “pigskin” that is actually made of cowhide (right here in Ohio by the way). I am referring to the beautiful, lush natural-grass field that will take more hits than any one player will on Sunday night.

According to an ESPN The Magazine, on a remote piece of farmland east of San Francisco, sometime in the fall, a buyer arrives to inspect the product.… Continue reading

Read More »

Steps for a successful lambing or kidding season

Goat and sheep lambing season is here and well underway for some producers. It is always important to review your last lambing/kidding season and its successes and failures as you prepare to raises lambs and kids during the current year. The following article offers some helpful tips for goat and sheep producers.

Take some time to read the tips below. Some of them may be review, but you never know when you will learn something new that could help your herd or flock.

6 steps for a successful lambing or kidding season

By Tom Earleywine, Ph.D., director of nutritional services for Land O’Lakes Animal Milk Products Co.

The health, growth and early performance of a lamb or kid crop directly impact’s future performance in the milking parlor, pasture or showring. As a result, long-term successes can be driven by success during the lambing and kidding season.

Nutrition is essential in giving lambs and kids a solid start.… Continue reading

Read More »

Power Show Ohio

The 46th edition of Power Show Ohio is welcoming nearly 200 exhibitors displaying products from more that 600 companies.

Power Show Ohio offers the opportunity to learn about products in the fields of agriculture, outdoor power equipment and construction.  It’s a chance for those same customers to get information that will afford them the know-how to become more efficient in their operations. The show features displays of the newest and best in tractors, skid steer loaders, commercial mowing equipment, utility vehicles, grain handling, computer software, fence building, hay equipment, buildings, backhoes, logging equipment, compact tractors, livestock equipment plus a number of lifestyle items.

Daily educational seminars will take place all three days.  Products from Ohio Proud partners will be available to sample and purchase and the National Kiddie Tractor Pull Association will be holding pedal tractor pulls on Saturday to determine the National Champion. All youngsters 3 to 8 years old are able to take part in the competition.… Continue reading

Read More »

Mountain Monsters: Trapper is not dead

I am pleased to confirm that despite rumors to the contrary in January of 2016, Trapper from the television series “Mountain Monsters” is alive and well.

A publicist for Discovery Communications, Inc. and “Mountain Monsters” confirmed he is in good health after a cliff hanger during one of the episodes left fans worried he had passed away.

“I’m happy to confirm that Trapper is alive and well,” a publicist for the network said. “At the end of the 2016 season premiere, there was a cliffhanger revealing that Trapper had a medical emergency. In reality Trapper’s health scare occurred last spring, and fans will see in this weekend’s episode that he is now in recovery and on the mend!”

Comments and messages of condolences were left on my blog from several years ago, Mountain Monsters: The inside scoop. I’m not sure why so many folks were sure Trapper had passed away, but I’m happy to report he is doing well.… Continue reading

Read More »

Follow up on our yield guess based on planting by the moon in 2015

If you’ll recall from last spring, we formulated a yield estimate based on the state’s planting progress according to the best phase of the moon to plant. According to two different almanacs, for planting corn in Ohio, the best days in 2015 were April 19, 20 and 23 through 25 and May 21, 22, and 28 through 31.

Here is how the USDA crop progress numbers went for corn planting this spring:

Week ending April 12: 1%

Week ending April 19: 1%

Week ending April 26: 2%

Week ending May 3: 15%

Week ending May 10: 55%

Week ending May 17: 77%

Week ending May 24: 87%

Week ending May 31: 93%

In April 1% of the corn crop was planted in the ideal time frame. In May 16% of the corn crop was planted at the best time. That is a total of 17% in the best conditions according to the moon.… Continue reading

Read More »

New Campbell’s soup labels are GMmm-mmmO good for agriculture

When I first heard about Campbell’s soup voluntarily putting the Genetically Modified ingredients they use on their labels, I wasn’t quite sure what to think, in all honesty. Would this be a positive change to make for one of the nation’s largest food companies, or would it be a slippery slope toward making such labels mandatory for every other company out there?

The way I see it, almost every household, including my own, always has a red and white can of soup in the cupboard. I am a pro at mixing a can of water or milk to any condensed soup for my daughter to dip her grilled cheese in or for my son to warm up with after a feisty snowball fight that more than likely was won by his old man.

Campbell’s standing firmly behind their use of GMOs may very well be the most ringing endorsement given to biotechnology.… Continue reading

Read More »

Approaching 2016 with a grateful heart

Earlier in the day a bag of dried beans for soup had broken open and a significant portion of its contents tumbled across the counter and down the kitchen sink drain. At the time, I hoped that they went all the way down. They didn’t. Instead, the dried beans soaked up water and swelled, completely filling the drain and causing a fairly colossal mess.

It had been a long day and I was tired. After dinner that evening my wife had a meeting. Our young children were playing nearby in the living room while I faced the dinner cleanup and the revolting contents of the sink, burbling up occasional blobs of gunk. I was on the border of falling back upon an old staple for handling these types of less-than-desirable situations — frustration and anger. After all, this situation was truly unpleasant and I had every right, I felt, to be frustrated.… Continue reading

Read More »

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 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.… Continue reading

Read More »

2016 draft horse sale dates

Here’s a list of some of the draft horse sales that will be held in 2016.  Be sure to follow the links below (when available) for more information and to verify times and dates before you make plans to attend a sale.

Jan. 19-20, 2016: Pennsylvania Draft Horse Sale, Harrisburg, Pa.

Feb. 1, 2015: Special Workhorse Sale, Kalona, Iowa

Feb. 11-12, 2016: Great Lakes Draft Horse Sale, East Lansing, Mich.

Feb. 23-26, 2016: Midwest Draft Horse Sale, Gifford, Ill.

March 7-11, 2016: Mid-Ohio Pony, Draft Horse, Carriage and Tack Sale, Mt. Hope, Ohio

March 15-18, 2016: Topeka Draft Horse and Equipment Auction, Topeka, Ind.

March 18-19, 2016: Dixie Draft Horse, Mule and Carriage Auction, Troutman, N.C.

March 29-April 1, 2016: Waverly Midwest Horse Sale, Waverly, Iowa

April 6-8, 2016: Midwest Select Draft Horse Sale, Madison, Wis.

April 11-12, 2016: Spring Draft Horse & Carriage Sale, Kalona, Iowa

April 22, 2016: Buckeye Draft Horse and Colt Sale, Dover, Ohio

April 28-30, 2016: National Clydesdale Sale, St.Continue reading

Read More »

Fireball the one-eyed wonder horse

Every one of us has our own unique physical and mental limitations. Though we may find our weaknesses frustrating, most of us are blessed to have fully functioning bodies; we are not truly handicapped.

That is not the case for Fireball, a very special miniature horse. Though he was born with eyes that operated normally, a year or two-ago he was involved in an accident in his pasture that permanently damaged one of his eyes.

When I first met him, Fireball had become outgrown by his current children and he was looking for a new home. Though he was as sweet and as happy as could be, his left eye was so severely damaged in the accident that he no longer had vision in that eye, plus he looked like he had been possessed by the devil. The poor little guy’s eye looked like a flame of fire.

Although my husband and I do not have children of our own, we are always looking for sweet and calm miniature geldings to add to our driving program, and Fireball’s wonderful disposition and driving skills fit the bill, despite his lack of vision in his left eye.… Continue reading

Read More »

A perfect fit

Dylan was sitting in the tractor seat scrolling through photos of beautiful Courtney on his phone and reviewing her text messages.

He had gotten this job at the Christmas tree farm as a favor from the farm owner to his father. At 17-years-old, Dylan didn’t listen to his parents. He didn’t care about his schoolwork. He was sort of interested in football and track, but mostly he didn’t care for much of anything — except for Courtney, and he was supposed to meet her after work that day.

His dad thought Dylan would learn a thing or two about hard work and respect for others with some time spent employed at the Christmas tree farm. So far, though, Dylan’s lackluster work ethic and self-centered nature clearly demonstrated that he was not really interested in this job either.

His thoughts of Courtney were interrupted when the farm owner yelled out from the barn, “Dylan, can you please get off your phone and help Mr.… Continue reading

Read More »

Ten reasons why Santa could have been a farmer

10. He takes care of the needs of the world.

9. He covers a lot of ground in a hurry when the pressure is on.

8. He’s used to getting in and out of tight places.

7. His wife is an excellent cook.

6. He could stand to lose a few pounds (see reason #7).

5. He’s good with kids.

4. He works outside, even in bad weather.

3. He knows how to get by with the same equipment season after season.

2. He’s good with livestock.

1. He works all year, just to give his stuff away.

Merry Christmas! -Ty… Continue reading

Read More »


Michael had ruined Thanksgiving.

As nine-year-old boys have been known to do, he had thrown a terrible fit after being woken from a nap. By the time his mother walked into the room, she could tell the pleasant Thanksgiving get-together was about to end (at least for her). She calmly picked Michael up as he kicked and screamed and said everything horrible thing he could think up, wrestling his mother all the way to the car seat and making quite a scene in front of the whole family.

With a few more snarls from Michael and another fit about putting on pajamas after getting home, he was tucked into bed in the tiny, tired-looking apartment. His exhausted mother impatiently left the room and said tersely, “Goodnight Michael.”

Michael awoke the next morning feeling incredibly remorseful for his behavior. He was getting too old for that sort of thing, after all.

He could see the dim glow of the morning’s first sun creeping in through the window when suddenly it dawned on him — sheer genius!… Continue reading

Read More »

Feral cats — The unwelcomed adventure that became a blessing

Cats are an important element in my barn. I always like to keep between three and five around to keep the vermin numbers under control. My barn cats are all spayed or neutered and well fed, and although I occasionally pet them, they are mostly independent creatures that care more about bringing “presents” in the form of dead rodents to their roommates, my pygmy goats, than they do paying attention to me. That’s fine by me. I hate rodents of all kinds so the arrangement works out nicely.

For nearly 10 years, I kept my cat numbers low and had minimal losses to my cat population. I considered myself lucky none of my cats had disappeared mysteriously and that none had been hit on the road. I was also thankful that no feral cats had found their way to my barn. That all changed in the fall of 2014.

Last fall, three recently weaned feral kittens claimed my barn as their own.… Continue reading

Read More »

What facts are really facts?

It can be really hard to know which way to feel about some issues because these days it seems everyone has their own set of “facts” that conclusively proves their point. The problem, of course, is that as soon as you conclusively prove a point, you run into someone else who has an entirely different set of facts that definitively proves their point, which happens to be the opposite view of the first point that was proven. Confused yet? I know I am.

One only has to sit and listen to a political debate on any issue between any candidates of any party to get all caught up in a muddled mess of my-facts-versus-your-facts. Then there is often a behind-the-scenes reporter who does a fact check on the aforementioned facts to clarify the situation. Unfortunately, more often than not, these fact checks often just compound the problem by providing another opportunity to spin the issue with a set of suspect facts about the facts.… Continue reading

Read More »