Country Life

Lake Erie walleye numbers continue to climb

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

This past summer, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife trawl surveys found that there was yet another walleye hatch that is well above average, as fisheries biologists reported the 2021 walleye hatch was the fifth largest recorded over the past 35 years.

The 2021 walleye hatch index was 90 fish per hectare (a standard measure of area), well above the rapidly increasing prior 20-year average of 34 fish per hectare. The young walleye averaged just over 4 inches long and were caught at every site sampled.

“Our fisheries biologists survey nearly 40 locations between Toledo and Huron by dragging a large, concave net along the bottom of the lake,” said Travis Hartman, Division of Wildlife Lake Erie Fisheries Program Manager. “Smaller first- and second- year fish tend to feed near the lake’s floor and are captured in the net, while larger fully-grown fish dodge the net and are not routinely caught.”… Continue reading

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The science (and deliciousness) of popcorn

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

It’s all about the science! I’m talking about the science of popcorn. My extensive research on states that there are 3 main components needed to create the perfect popping corn: kernel moisture of 13.5 to 14%, kernel, and starch all wrapped up in a hard shell. These three factors must be just right to create the magic. Throw these seeds in some hot oil and it’s showtime. The hot oil bath causes the moisture in the seeds to expand and begin their dance. The moisture and pressure build up until there is an explosion of epic proportions. states that popcorn can pop at heights of up to 3 feet! Guess it’s always good to keep the lid on. The starch in the kernel forms a 3-D bubble-like structure that turns it into a fluffy treat. It is amazing science that is true no matter how you look at it. … Continue reading

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FACA encouraged by USDA Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) is encouraged by USDA’s recent announcement inviting proposals to advance voluntary climate-smart farming and forestry practices. The alliance is pleased to see USDA embracing an incentive-based approach that would increase demand for climate-smart farm, ranch and forestry products, while building trust that the climate benefits are real and verifiable.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry Partnership Initiative saying USDA hopes to receive proposals from a wide variety of stakeholders interested in voluntarily collaborating to test wide-ranging ideas that sequester carbon and reduce GHG emissions on farms and working lands. Vilsack credited FACA, saying the department drew heavily from alliance recommendations released in May 2021 when forming the program. USDA also acknowledges the need identified by FACA to build confidence in these climate benefits by investing in measurement, monitoring and verification to lay the groundwork for success and potential actions by Congress.… Continue reading

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Fall weather finally arrives

By Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University Extension

After a very brief cool down the third week of September, summer-like weather has gripped the Buckeye State until this past Saturday. Most stations across Ohio have recorded their warmest October to date (1895-2021). Rainfall has been plentiful for some as well, especially across northwest Ohio, where locations have received 3-5 inches (200-300% of normal). Counties across central Ohio have been a bit drier. The strong cold front that swept through Friday night and dropped temperatures back closer to seasonal norms sparked several tornadoes across the state as well. The most significant (EF2- 115 mph winds) occurred near South Salem in Ross County. The chilly weather also brought the first reports of frost to some locations.


Strong high pressure and fair weather remained in control through Wednesday. Highs reached the upper-60s to mid-70s Tuesday and Wednesday, with overnight lows in the 40s. A fast moving cold front will increase the threat of showers for Wednesday night through Thursday night.… Continue reading

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Honey Haven Farm: A family tradition staple

By Brianna Gwirtz, OCJ field reporter

It all began with a pumpkin patch. In 1999 John Boyer and his wife, Deb, opened their farm to the public so visitors could pick pumpkins. Boyer, at the time, was a dairymen, the fourth generation on the farm to milk cows and raise crops in Ashland County. 

It was an economical decision to plant the 8 acres of pumpkins. 

“Milking was on the downhill slide at the time. A neighbor was raising pumpkins and he was making a profit off of them. So I decided to give it a try,” Boyer said. “I had beginner’s luck. Every pumpkin was huge. We picked a truck load in 20 minutes, I took them to Mt. Hope and got $4 a pumpkin. The next night I asked for my family’s help to pick more pumpkins. Then the following night, I asked for more help. Then my sister suggested, what If I just let folks come pick their own pumpkin?… Continue reading

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CSA mini-conference

By Eric Richer, OSU Extension Educator

There are many options when it comes to direct marketing farm-raised products. One of those options is using the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model whereby customers buy a weekly ‘subscription’ of fresh produce, meat, eggs, etc. If you have interest in learning more about this model of direct marketing, you may consider attending the virtual mini-conference Thinking Inside the Box: Growing CSA’s Across the Tri-State Region.

The mini-conference will take place on Monday, October 25, 2021 from 8:30 am – 12:00 noon EST on Zoom.  This conference is free but registration is required to receive the conference link (registration: For questions, contact Christie Welch or Anna Adams The deadline for registration is October 22, 2021.

Breakout room topics will include starting a CSA, scaling up your CSA, implied warranty (legal) information, and choosing an online platform to manage your CSA.… Continue reading

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Clovers CODE: Creating Opportunities Designed for Everyone

By Sally McClaskey, Ohio 4-H Youth Development

What happens when you combine kids, iPads, and 4-H? The result is Clovers CODE, a statewide program from Ohio 4-H that introduces problem-solving, computer literacy and coding through hands-on activities.

Clovers CODE (Creating Opportunities Designed for Everyone), began in Franklin County and since 2019 has grown to include 3,115 4-H youth in 44 counties. As part of its Community Education Initiative, Apple provided the Ohio 4-H Youth Development Program with devices, programmable robots, and professional learning and support.

As part of Clovers CODE, the Warren County Tech Creators began meeting in the spring with a group of middle school age youth. According to 4-H educator Steve Brady, Clovers CODE expanded their initial interest in technology. 

“This was more than just playing a computer game,” Brady said. “By exploring the iPads and using the Everyone Can Code curriculum, they learned how to write code to create an app, program a robot and explore video editing.” … Continue reading

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Beginning farmers legislation

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

H.B. 95 helps beginning farmers and continues to receive attention. The bill would allow individuals to be certified as beginning farmers and create income tax credits for owners who sell land and agricultural assets to certified beginning farmers and for beginning farmers who attend approved financial management programs. 

The bill passed the House on June 28, 2021 and was referred to the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Sept. 8, 2021.… Continue reading

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S.B. 52 – Solar and wind facilities update

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

 S.B. 52 passed several months ago and was effective on October 11, 2021. The new law will allow counties to designate “restricted areas” in a county where wind and solar projects may not locate and creates a county referendum process for a public vote on restricted area designation. The law will also require developers to hold a public meeting in the county where a facility is proposed at least 90 days before applying for project approval with the Ohio Power Siting Board. After the meeting, the county commissioner may choose to prohibit or limit the proposed project. Another provision of the new law appoints 2 local officials from the proposed location to serve on the OPSB board that reviews a project. And importantly for landowners, the new law requires a developer to submit a decommissioning plan to OPSB for approval with the application and to post and regularly update a performance bond for the amount of decommissioning costs.  … Continue reading

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High stakes for ag in D.C. debates

By Matt Reese

With harvest in full swing, the attention of America’s farmers is not on policy debates in Washington, D.C., but there are some significant potential agricultural implications.

“Get your muck boots on if you’re going to try to wade into this. There is a lack of clarity. There is the bipartisan infrastructure package that has broad support right now and a lot of key priorities for Ohio agriculture included in it — like rural broadband and funding for inland waterway structures. That is kind of being stymied right now by all of the other things that are happening with the Build Back Better Act, a $3.5 trillion proposal,” said Luke Crumley, with Ohio Corn & Wheat. “On top of that we have this fiscal cliff looming with the debt limit that is quickly approaching here in the middle of the month. Our growers are trying to sift through all that in the middle of harvest.… Continue reading

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New law bulletin explains Ohio’s sales tax exemptions for agriculture

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

If you’ve ever claimed a sales tax exemption on a purchase of farm goods, you may have experienced some confusion over whether you or the good is eligible for the exemption. That’s because Ohio’s sales tax law is a bit tedious and complicated. The law has several agricultural exemptions, but it can be challenging to understand who can claim them and what types of goods and services are exempt. 

Those are the reasons for our newest law bulletin, Ohio’s Agricultural Sales Tax Exemption Laws. We walk through the different sales tax exemptions that apply to agriculture, offer examples of goods that do and do not qualify for the exemptions, explain who can claim an exemption and how to claim it, and explain what happens when sales taxes are overpaid or not correctly paid. We also offer steps a farmer can take to obtain the full benefits of Ohio’s agricultural sales tax exemptions. … Continue reading

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Income tax schools

By Barry Ward and Julie Strawser, OSU Income Tax Schools

Dealing with the tax provisions of the COVID-related legislation for both individuals and businesses are among the topics to be discussed during the upcoming Tax School workshop series offered throughout Ohio in November and December.

The annual series is designed to help tax preparers learn about federal tax law changes and updates for this year as well as learn more about issues they may encounter when filing individual and small business 2021 tax returns.

OSU Income Tax Schools are intermediate-level courses that focus on interpreting tax regulations and changes in tax law to help tax preparers, accountants, financial planners and attorneys advise their clients. The schools offer continuing education credit for certified public accountants, enrolled agents, attorneys, annual filing season preparers and certified financial planners.

Attendees also receive a class workbook that alone is an extremely valuable reference as it offers over 600 pages of material including helpful tables and examples that will be valuable to practitioners.… Continue reading

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Multimillion-dollar pilot watershed project set for NW Ohio

The Ohio State University will be the lead partner on a new five-year, multimillion-dollar pilot watershed project in northwestern Ohio designed to demonstrate that agricultural conservation practices — if used on 70% of the farmland in a watershed, and evaluated on a watershed scale — can help meet Lake Erie’s water quality goals.

The Regional Conservation Partnership Program, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service, is providing $6.8 million in funding for the project.

A further $4 million is being made available to the project by the state of Ohio through the H2Ohio water quality initiative, which the project will complement.

Key to the project are investments by other partners that bring the project’s total funding to more than $18 million.

The new project “targets the ultimate goal of preserving Lake Erie while supporting agricultural vitality and environmental sustainability,” said Cathann A. Kress, Ohio State’s vice president for agricultural administration and dean of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES). … Continue reading

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Ohio county Farm Bureaus receive national recognition for 2021 efforts

The American Farm Bureau Federation County Activities of Excellence awards celebrate unique, local, volunteer-driven programs that serve as models of innovation for local program development. The winning counties receive a grant to fund participation in the Farm Bureau CAE Showcase at the 2022 American Farm Bureau Annual Convention and Trade Show Jan. 7-12, 2022 in Atlanta. AFBF received more than 75 entries across all membership categories, with only 18 activities nationwide being selected to present at the convention. Again this year, Ohio had more winners than any other state.

“The creativity of our county Farm Bureau members continues to amaze me,” said Melinda Witten, Ohio Farm Bureau senior director of leadership development. “These programs are superb examples of Farm Bureau offering member value and being important community partners in their respective counties.”

Ohio’s winners:

Knox County: Date Night at the Orchard

Date Night at the Orchard served as a way to get the local community on a farm and show them local agriculture while also having a fun night out.… Continue reading

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Financial learning opportunities in October

By Wm. Bruce Clevenger, Amanda Douridas, Ken Ford, Haley Zynda, Ohio State University Extension educators

Ohio State University Extension has scheduled four seminars in Ohio for Agricultural Lenders. The dates are Tuesday, Oct. 19 in Ottawa; Thursday, Oct. 21 in Urbana; Thursday, Oct. 21 in Washington Court House, and Monday, Oct. 25 in Wooster.

These seminars are excellent professional development opportunities for Lenders, Farm Service Agency personnel, county Extension Educators and others to learn about OSU Extension research, outreach programs and current agricultural topics of interest across the state.

2021 topics and speakers by location

Oct. 19, Putnam Co. Educational Service Center, 124 Putman Parkway, Ottawa, OH  45875

  • Farm Service Agency – Loan program update, Kurt Leber, Northwest Ohio FSA, District Director, Farm Loan & Farm Program
  • Examining land values, rents, crop input costs and margins and tax implications, Barry Ward, Leader, Production Business Management, OSU Extension
  • Behind the meter solar energy on-farm, Eric Romich, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Energy Education
  • Solar leasing farmland, Eric Romich, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Energy Education
  • Carbon market, Mike Estadt, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources — Pickaway County
  • Machinery replacement strategies and investment in precision ag, Terry W.
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Higher loan limit now available for USDA guaranteed farm loans

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing a higher loan limit will be available for borrowers seeking a guaranteed farm loan starting Oct. 1, 2021, from $1.776 million to $1.825 million.  

“Farm loans are critical for our customers’ annual operating and family living expenses, emergency needs, and cash flow,” said Zach Ducheneaux, FSA administrator. “Raising the guaranteed loan limit will allow FSA to better meet the financial needs of producers as natural disasters and the pandemic continue to impact their operations.”

FSA farm loans offer access to funding for a wide range of producer needs, from securing land to financing the purchase of equipment. Guaranteed loans are financed and serviced by commercial lenders. FSA provides up to a 95% guarantee against possible financial loss of principal and interest. Guaranteed loans can be used for both farm ownership and operating purposes.

In fiscal year 2021, FSA saw continued strong demand for guaranteed loans.… Continue reading

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Heritage Cooperative completes grain storage project at Marysville Ag Campus location

Heritage Cooperative is excited to announce the completion of a grain expansion project at the Marysville AgCampus, 15090 Scottslawn Rd., Marysville, Ohio. The addition of two new grain silos provides an added 1.7 million bushels of grain storage.

The $5 million project included building two grain storage bins on the north side of the property, increasing the grain storage capacity of this facility to just under 5 million bushels. This additional storage will benefit Heritage growers in the Marysville area as well as those growers in Kenton, Urbana, Upper Sandusky, and other locations on the western side of Ohio. Access to grain storage becomes much more available for growers when stored grain is shipped to Marysville freeing up space needed in other areas.

“We are very excited about this project and the grain storage solutions this provides to our growers throughout the area.” said Jeff Osentoski, President and CEO of Heritage Cooperative, “This additional storage capacity allows us to take customer’s grain when they need to unload it and the timing is perfect for our busy harvest season which we are currently in.”

Elevator Services and Storage, Inc., who built the grain bins on the south side of the concrete silos 5 years ago, completed this project in 6 months.… Continue reading

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2021 Ohio State Cornhusking Contest

The Ohio State Cornhusking Contest will be held in Greenville on Oct. 9, 2021 at 10:30 a.m. The location will be 2764 Wildcat Road Greenville, Ohio. Registration is $10 for membership and husking fee per class. Registration begins at 9 a.m. For more information contact David Magie, president of the Ohio Hand Cornhusking Association at 937-533-7966. … Continue reading

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Nanci Griffith: Country music loses a legend

On Aug. 13, 2021, Nanci Griffith, the American singer/songwriter, died at the age of 68 in Nashville, Tennessee. You may not recognize her name, but you might remember her songs if you heard them. She had a distinctive crystalline voice and a unique storytelling skill.

            If you are so inclined, do a search of Nanci Griffith on YouTube. It’s refreshing to watch a performer focused on the music. No fireworks, no revealing costume, no choreography. Just a clear voice and a rare insight into the lives of everyday people.

            Nanci often remarked that if you took Woody Guthrie and Loretta Lynn and mixed them together, you would get Nanci Griffith. She was inspired by Guthrie’s enduring folk music and impressed that Loretta Lynn was the first woman to play her own rhythm guitar when she performed the songs she wrote. Nanci described her music as “folkabilly.”

            She was a frequent performer on Austin City Limits and made many appearances as musical guest for the David Letterman Show.… Continue reading

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Rich history of livestock on the Clark-Weber farm

By Matt Reese

A crazy cousin, a family feud over Hereford cattle horns, a couple of Rockefellers, a tragic fire, John Wayne, and a world record all came up in a recent afternoon discussion about the seven generations and 200+ years of rich history on the Clark-Weber farm in Clark County. 

Sisters Becky Reed and Jenny Fleming, are the sixth generation on the Clark-Weber bicentennial farm in Clark County.

Sisters Becky Reed and Jenny Fleming, representing the sixth generation on the farm, were able to share several unique points in the farm history. The story of Grandview Farms and Mohawk Farms got its start, like many other tales in Clark County, with James Foley, who amassed a significant amount of land in the area. He came to Ohio sometime between 1803 and 1805 and served as a Captain in the War of 1812. 

“James Foley was a native of Virginia and became one of the early pioneers of Clark County while the Indians were still the principal occupants of the then almost unbroken forest when there was but one store in Springfield, and four or five houses constituted the town.… Continue reading

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