Blogs

Chipotle earns a trip to the banishment list … again

OK, so Ty beat me to the punch a little on this one, but I had to chime in on the latest agricultural hack job by Chipotle Mexican Grill.

I’ve always felt a little queasy in the belly about Chipotle. I have no problem with them using all naturally raised pork and chicken, and 85% naturally raised beef in their restaurants, if that is what they choose to do. It’s their habit of slandering conventional American agriculture in the process that doesn’t sit so well. So while I would eat at Chipotle on occasion, it was always with a slight sense of apprehension.

Then, last spring, Chipotle landed firmly on my poop list for endorsing the Ohio efforts of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to hijack the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board and obliterate Ohio agriculture via an overly restrictive, non-scientific initiative they had planned to put on the November 2010 ballot, before the well publicized “agreement” was reached between HSUS and Ohio agricultural groups.… Continue reading

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Willie, Did You Have To Do It?

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

The thing that will be most difficult for me in this blog is drawing attention to a video that I think misrepresents agriculture in the worst of ways. The second most diffcult thing for me is to admit that Willie Nelson is involved. I want you to watch the video and do so without throwing your computer out of the window. It is not your computers fault that a factory food chain only wants to feed its so-called loyal customers and leave the rest of the world to starve.

I also wanted to point out some of the comments placed on YouTube for the video. This proves that consumers aren’t as ignorant as the restaurant chain thinks they are. Not even close.

This is what Chipotle says about their organic initiatives: “In 2010, Chipotle plans to serve at least 50% of at least one produce item from local farms when it is seasonally available (more than 50% and more than one item any time we can).”

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Morrow County Fair and the chick magnet

Apparently, when you marry a talented and beautiful Ohio Lamb and Wool Queen, occasionally judging Guys and Gals Lead Competitions is part of the deal. This is not something I recall from our marriage vows but I am told that this was indeed in there somewhere.

At any rate, my wife and I had the chance to visit the Morrow County Fair this week to serve as judges for the Guys and Gals Sheep Lead competition and had a great time visiting the fair. While the poise of the young ladies and their fine outfits were the highlight for most spectators, I have to say that Dale Morris was one of the real highlights for me. The three-year-old donned a bright yellow, feathery chicken costume complete with floppy chicken feet shoes. The sheep he led for the competition had what looked to be a giant magnet around its neck as they circled the show ring.… Continue reading

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God the dog and me

I was sitting on my front porch one hot summer day

My head hung low. Things were not going my way.

My money’s almost gone, I thought with great alarm

If hog prices do not turn around I’ll have to sell the farm.

With just my dog at my side, I prayed long and hard,

When a long black car pulled up to my yard,

An Asian businessman emerged, “What do I do now?”

I stood up to greet him and the dog said, “Bow.”

I followed Rover’s orders and the man was soon my friend,

He wanted locally grown pork and would offer many yen.

Money was no object, he’d pay handsomely —

Most any problem can be solved by God, the dog and me.

 

My wife was hoppin’ mad one day and I did not know why,

She’d left in a huff without even saying goodbye.

I couldn’t think of anything that I’d have done to make her mad,

So it must have been what I hadn’t done that had been so bad.… Continue reading

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I’m embarrassed for my neighbor…and me too!

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

As you know from my previous posts, I live in a very small neighborhood, both in the sense of population and my postage stamp-sized piece of this earth. I’ll be honest; it doesn’t take a whole lot to upkeep this lot. By the time I mow and weed-wack the “estate”, an hour may have gone by. But that is my hour. The kids may be screaming and crying and my wife may be griping about something else I forgot to do before I started mowing (I do that a lot), but I can’t hear a thing except my 12-horse, 22inch Craftsman mower.

That is my time to kind of check out.

We all need that time to forget about everything that may be going wrong in our world. Some check out by doing yoga, reading, jogging or other crazy things that I have no interest in.… Continue reading

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Ohio hosts NCTA conference and demonstrates quality leadership

Why is it that Ohio agriculture is so often underestimated at the national level? Granted, in terms of sheer quantity, our total agricultural production is but a hill of beans compared to the vast production of the “I states” to the west. And, because we are not at the top of the list for many of the nation’s top commodities (through we are in the top 10 in many of them) it is apparently easy to overlook the might of Ohio in terms of national agriculture. The most recent example of this that I have seen is the National Christmas Tree Convention that was held in early August.

Leaders from Ohio lobbied the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) to host the event this year and there was some skepticism. After all, Ohio barely cracks the top 10 in overall Christmas tree production and would simply not be able to compete with the bigger players in the country such as North Carolina, Michigan, and Oregon that have hosted the convention in the past.… Continue reading

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Youth experience show rings and show biz at this year’s state fair

This past Friday at the Ohio State Fair, I was walking from livestock barn to livestock barn when I heard an odd announcement over the loud speaker. The person on the public address system said people should go to a particular stage on the grounds at 11 a.m. if they wanted to be part of a “major motion picture.”

Needless to say, that’s not your typical fair announcement. However, I was busy and figured there was some odd catch involved and continued on with my tasks of taking livestock show pictures and gathering results.

A couple hours later, I happened to walk into the Voinovich Livestock Center just as John King, superintendent of the beef shows, was making yet another odd announcement. He was thanking those in the barn for their patience, assistance and cooperation with police and fire officials during this “historical occasion” in the beef barn.

My first fear was that some animal rights radical had done something crazy in the barn, and the question was what exactly was the fallout?… Continue reading

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Guys and Gals Lead a not-to-be-missed event for this proud papa

Growing up with sheep, my wife developed an early affinity for the Guys and Gals Sheep Sheep Lead competition where the contestant dresses up in wool (often on very warm summer days) during the county fair, leads the sheep around the ring and models the garments. In my estimation, this is nothing short of bizarre. To make matters worse, this has been a particular source of controversy in our marriage due to the fact that the spectacular action of the not-to-be-missed combine demolition derby at the county fair typically coincides with the event.

This all changed, however, with my daughter’s third birthday last year, making her eligible for the Guys and Gals Lead. Since then I have found that any time you combine three-year-olds, livestock and wool apparel, there is potential for great adventure. Last year, in Campbell’s first sheep lead experience at the Fairfield County Fair (during the not-to-be-missed combine derby), things were going very well until the sheep behind Campbell got loose and ran into the backside of her sheep.… Continue reading

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Enjoying Ohio’s rich history, even at the Ohio State Fair

Aside from agriculture, one of my primary interests is history — particularly military history. My memories growing up on the farm with my two older brothers involve a lot of hay work, and in our free time, recreations of many of history’s famous battles.

Plenty of those battles involved the three of us outside in the yard, or in a field, with our toy guns and gear fighting off imaginary Indians, rebels, Germans or other enemies, depending on the era of the day’s combat. The area around our house was truly a site of much carnage.

When indoors, we would dive into our boxes of little plastic army men, cowboys and Indians, knights and Vikings, and other fighting toys. The living room floor was often decorated with an array of military units or forts under siege.

Well, carry that forward into current day, and my job traveling around Ohio from farm to farm has allowed me to scratch my historical itch on numerous occasions.… Continue reading

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It’s good to be the queen

By Matt Reese

Last spring, my family had the opportunity to meet the first ever Ohio Wool Queen, Elaine Leightey, and her husband Franklin, from Upper Sandusky. Leightey was crowned in 1955 as the first queen. It was fun for my wife to meet Mrs. Leightey because Kristin was the Ohio Lamb and Wool Queen in 1999 and is the current coordinator for the contest. Our daughter Campbell was extremely excited to meet the “Queen” and has royal aspirations as well, with hopes of one day being a Lamb and Wool Queen herself. All in all, it was a very royal afternoon.

Here are some very queenly photos and more about Leightey and the queen tradition she started. At the Ohio State Fair this weekend, 2010-2011 Ohio Lamb and Wool Queen Morgan Senath Melvin crowned Meghan Bennett, from Shelby County, as the next recipient of this honor. Judges at the Ohio State Fair will select the queen on Sunday, July 31 based on an application, interview and their answer to an impromptu question from a panel of judges live at the conclusion of the Guys and Gals lead competition.… Continue reading

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It's good to be the queen

By Matt Reese

Last spring, my family had the opportunity to meet the first ever Ohio Wool Queen, Elaine Leightey, and her husband Franklin, from Upper Sandusky. Leightey was crowned in 1955 as the first queen. It was fun for my wife to meet Mrs. Leightey because Kristin was the Ohio Lamb and Wool Queen in 1999 and is the current coordinator for the contest. Our daughter Campbell was extremely excited to meet the “Queen” and has royal aspirations as well, with hopes of one day being a Lamb and Wool Queen herself. All in all, it was a very royal afternoon.

Here are some very queenly photos and more about Leightey and the queen tradition she started. At the Ohio State Fair this weekend, 2010-2011 Ohio Lamb and Wool Queen Morgan Senath Melvin crowned Meghan Bennett, from Shelby County, as the next recipient of this honor. Judges at the Ohio State Fair will select the queen on Sunday, July 31 based on an application, interview and their answer to an impromptu question from a panel of judges live at the conclusion of the Guys and Gals lead competition.… Continue reading

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The Food Safety Net

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

As the debt ceiling talks heat up enough to go no where in Washington, discussions about cuts to ag spending continue. Earlier this week the House Ag Subcommittee conducted it’s eighth audit of farm programs. This audit focused on Title 1 and the SURE program. Many members on this subcommittee acknowledge the need for cuts and more producers, like many Americans, are willing to do there share.

In an atmosphere where numbers usually do not add up, many are thinking that big cuts in ag spending is the solution to this trillion dollar problem.

Here are the facts:

1) Farm programs comprise less than one-half of one percent of the federal budget – just 50 cents for every 100 dollars.

2) Without farm programs, a few bad seasons can put a farm out of business.

3) When a source of production is lost, it doesn’t typically come back.… Continue reading

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Sheep-wrangling realtor

My wife is a realtor and has her share of interesting stories through the years with clients, strange properties and misadventures. I thought I would share her most recent sheep-wrangling realtor adventure that happened a couple of days ago. We raise Horned Dorset sheep and she stopped and helped some fellow sheep owners in need. Here is a recent blog she wrote on the topic:

A funny thing happened to my sister and I yesterday. Driving back from Perry County we spotted two market lambs running along the 55-mph road. We turned around to get them to safety. Jessica ran to the house to get the owners and I, dressed in nice clothes from showing a house, went to the barnyard to get the lambs in the barn.

After Jessica opened the door to the unknown house because they did not come to the door, she found a 3-year-old little boy who said he was home alone.… Continue reading

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Just another day on the farm

I had a day of farm work this past weekend that many of you can probably relate to. It started about 8 a.m. when I went out and tedded some hay I’d mowed the previous day.

Next, it was off to a different hay field to move round bales into groups of 10 in preparation for hauling them the 5 miles to my dad’s dairy. Thankfully, about 30 minutes into this project, my brother Scott came to help. So, for the next couple hours, he drove the bales to the dairy, while I continued organizing and loading them.

The bales were from two neighbors’ fields that were side-by-side, and since the one only had eight bales in it and our bale wagon, when loaded, couldn’t fit through the gate, I was moving them to the other neighbor’s field two at a time — one bale on the spiked loader in front of the tractor, and the other on the 3-point spike on the back.… Continue reading

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Things are hopping at the Reese House

Now that our barn is red (after three weeks of being pink) the neighbors are happier, but it is always an adventure at the Reese house. It is a wild week with Vacation Bible School at church every night, which keeps our evenings hopping. But things were even hopping in mid-day when the kids discovered this tree frog climbing on our window. It was clinging to the glass with its fascinating frog suction cup toes. I have never seen one quite like it. My wife was less than thrilled with the discovery.

We captured the frog in some Tupperware (again, wife not thrilled) and carried it out to a tree. The frog appeared to change color slightly from a brownish to a greenish color to match the moss on the tree. The children and I were in amphibian heaven and once the frog was away from the house, my wife even liked it a bit more.… Continue reading

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Farming: On A Smaller Scale – July, 2011

By Ty Higgins, Ohio Ag Net

We are just about ready to harvest some of the first sweet corn here at The Higgins’ Homestead, but I have not been all that impressed with what we have to work with. Luckily, the kids aren’t quite as disappointed. They simply see corn and they’re happy. About one month after planting, we had several heavy rains and two hail storms. That knock over about 1/4 of the crop and those were pulled. Not enough for silage so I just tossed them aside. Should’ve taken out crop insurance cause I’ll sure miss those 20 ears come August.

I also have a new saying for the sweet corn’s progress around this time of year, “Kid high by the fourth of July”. That was the case this year but if the kids keep growing like they are I won’t be able to use that one very much longer.… Continue reading

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“Century farms” are a proud Ohio heritage

Since becoming editor of Ohio’s Country Journal 10 years ago — my first official issue was August 2001 — some of my fondest story assignments have been about Ohio “century farms.” These are farms that have been in the same family continuously for 100 years or more, and Ohio has quite a few.

I enjoy going on these story interviews, because they combine the two things I enjoy most in life, agriculture and history. OK, sports is pretty high on the list too, but you can’t ask for everything at once. Two out of three isn’t bad!

These century farms often have such a rich history of strength, perseverance, optimism and innovation … all the things you would expect in a farm that’s been operated by the same family for so long. And the people are such a joy to talk with. So often they have such interesting family stories that have been passed down through the years about life on the farm.… Continue reading

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Delicious lamb is gaining popularity

I recently got a spectacular new grill (the kind that has charcoal and gas) with a side smoker box. I have seasoned it with bacon grease and is ready to go. The sizzle of the fire, the rich aroma of the cooking meat and the delicious results of summer grilling hold an irresistible appeal for me. Steak is great, pork chops are divine and chicken is delicious, but lamb cooked to perfection on the grill can top them all.

Now, I am a bit biased with regard to my affinity for lamb. I married the Ohio Lamb and Wool Queen whom I met on the job 12 years ago (being an agricultural journalist does have it perks) and we do work extensively with my in-laws’ flock of registered Horned Dorset sheep. We show our sheep at the Ohio State Fair and my daughter is already smitten with having sheep in our barn.… Continue reading

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