Country Life

Funds for Muskingum River Parkway

State Senator Tim Schaffer (R-Lancaster) recently announced the state’s Controlling Board approval of over $13 million for professional engineering services along the Locks and Dams of the Muskingum River.
“The Muskingum River and surrounding State Park draws thousands of campers and boaters each year in addition to its function as a major transportation route though the area,” Schaffer said. “These locks and dams must be well maintained for the safety and security of the region.”… Continue reading

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2021 Ohio Wine Competition official results

Michael Angelo Winery’s 2020 Pinot Grigio won Overall Best of Show at the 2021 Ohio Wine Competition. The competition was held August 2-4 at the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. There were 300 total entries this year with 229 receiving medals: 29 double gold, 35 gold, 96 silver and 69 bronze.

Best of Show and Best of Ohio Awards

Overall Best of Show:2020 Michael Angelo Pinot Grigio
Best of Show White:Maize Valley Riesling
Best of Ohio White:2019 Ferrante Grand River Valley Signature Chardonnay
Best of Show Red:2017 Burnet Ridge Purple Trillium
Best of Ohio Red:2020 Crooked River Cabernet Franc
Best of Show and Best of Ohio Blush/Rosé:Kosicek Vineyards Emma’s Blush
Best of Show Fruit/Specialty:Maize Valley Blackberry
Best of Show Sparkling:Ferrante Star Seeker Moscato

The Best of Ohio designations are awarded to the Best of Show wines that are made from a minimum of 90% Ohio-grown American/Labrusca, Hybrid or Vinifera grape varieties, and have received the Ohio Quality Wine seal designation.… Continue reading

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ODA asking for help to spot the spotted lanternfly

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) needs help in keeping an eye out for the spotted lanternfly (SLF), an invasive insect that can cause significant damage to some plants and crops. The insect was spotted in Mingo Junction, Jefferson County, Ohio in 2020. There have also been sightings of it in Pennsylvania and Indiana.

SLF is a great concern to the grape and wine industry. The insect is fond of grape and fruit trees, hops, blueberry, oak, pine, poplar, and walnut. Adult SLF mainly feed on grapevines and tree of heaven, while nymphs feed on a wide range of hosts. Both adults and nymphs feed on stems and leaves, causing sap bleeding and reduced photosynthesis, which can eventually kill the plant.

Now through November is the best time to identify the SLF because it is in its most recognizable stages as a nymph and a moth. After hatching in the late spring, the SLF goes through four nymph stages. By midsummer, the nymph SLF can be identified by its red body, roughly a half-inch in size, with black stripes and white dots.… Continue reading

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Agriculture on display at Field of Dreams baseball game

Actor Kevin Costner leads players through the corn on Thursday night’s “Field of Dreams” baseball game in the style of the 1989 film.

By Kolt Buchenroth, Ohio Ag Net

They built it. And they came. Originally slated for 2020, Major League Baseball’s “Field of Dreams” between the White Sox and Yankees took place Thursday night in the middle of a cornfield in Dyersville, Iowa, just miles from the set of the 1989 Kevin Costner flick.

The venue held 8,000 people. Tickets were only available to those with an Iowa zip code.

While some online were curious about the yield of the crop, players sampled the crop.

The National Corn Growers Association was a part of the evening’s festivities as a sponsor. Releasing a statement before the game, “This is the first time two professional sports franchises will play a game in a field of corn.… Continue reading

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Microcystis cyanobacteria bloom monitoring in western Lake Erie

By the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides forecasts for seasonal blooms of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in Lake Erie, typically from July to October when warmer water creates favorable bloom conditions. Western Lake Erie has been plagued by an increase of Hazardous Algal Blooms (HABs) intensity over the past decade. These blooms consist of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae, which are capable of producing toxins that pose a risk to human and animal health, foul coastlines, and impact communities and businesses that depend on the lake. A combination of satellite image (for bloom location and extent), a forecasting and mixing model provide information on the current status of the bloom, forecasted position both at the surface and at depth, and toxicity from field samples.

The Microcystis cyanobacteria bloom in western Lake Erie has an approximate area of 120 square miles, which is a decrease in area since Aug 04.

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USDA investing $67 million to help heirs resolve land ownership and succession issues

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $67 million in competitive loans through the new Heirs’ Property Relending Program (HPRP), which aims to help agricultural producers and landowners resolve heirs’ land ownership and succession issues. Intermediary lenders — cooperatives, credit unions, and nonprofit organizations — can apply for loans up to $5 million at 1% interest once the Farm Service Agency (FSA) opens the two-month signup window in late August. 

After FSA selects lenders, heirs can apply directly to those lenders for loans and assistance. Heirs’ property issues have long been a barrier for many producers and landowners to access USDA programs and services, and this relending program provides access to capital to help producers find a resolution to these issues. 

“While those affected are in all geographic and cultural areas, many black farmers and other groups who have experienced historic discrimination have inherited heirs’ property,” Vilsack said. “USDA is committed to revising policies to be more equitable and examining barriers faced by heirs’ property owners is part of that effort.… Continue reading

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Blanchard River Demo Farms Network launches new website

At the three northwest Ohio farms involved in the Blanchard River Demonstration Farms Network, there is always something new and innovative happening to give all farmers in Ohio insights on agricultural practices that help reduce and prevent nutrient runoff. While most of the projects take place in the field, one of the latest improvements happened online with the unveiling of a new website.

“Over the first five years, we did a really good job of getting nonfarmers on the demo farms to showcase our research and convey some of the ways farmers are using best management practices for water quality and nutrient management,” said Jordan Hoewischer, director of water quality and research with Ohio Farm Bureau. “When we signed a new five-year agreement with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service to continue work on our demo farms, we took that opportunity to put a major focus on farmer engagement and getting them to find out about some of the new practices they need to consider.”… Continue reading

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Summer ag law harvest

By Jeffrey K. Lewis, attorney and research specialist, Ohio State University Agricultural & Resource Law 

Did you know that Giant Panda Cubs can be as small as a stick of butter? A panda mother is approximately 900 times bigger than her newborn cub, which can weigh less than 5 ounces. This is like an 8-pound human baby having a mother that weighed 7,200 pounds — this size difference may explain why so many panda cubs die from accidentally being crushed by their mothers. However, not everything is doom and gloom for the Giant Panda. Chinese officials have officially downgraded pandas from “endangered” to “vulnerable.” Although the International Union for Conservation of Nature re-labelled, the Panda as “vulnerable” in 2016, China wanted to make sure that the population of its national treasure continued to grow before downgrading the panda’s classification. 

Although it seems as though pandas are thriving thanks to conservation efforts in China, not all animal species in China are so lucky.… Continue reading

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Ohio New and Small Farm College events set for 2021

By Tony Nye, Ohio State University Extension educator

Bringing small farms in Ohio to life is the theme of the New and Small Farm College program that has been offered to farm families since 2005. The program focuses on the increasing number of new and small farm landowners that have a need for comprehensive farm ownership and management programming.

The mission of the college is to provide a greater understanding of production practices, economics of land use choices, assessment of personal and natural resources, marketing alternatives, and the identification of sources of assistance.

The New and Small Farm College has three educational objectives:

  1. To improve the economic development of small farm family-owned farms
  2. To help small farm landowners and families diversify their opportunities into successful new enterprises
  3. To improve agricultural literacy among small farm landowners not actively involved in agriculture.

Since the program began, the New and Small Farm College has now reached over 1,175 participants from 57 Ohio counties representing almost 900 farms.… Continue reading

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Approachable cheese at Urban Stead

By Matt Reese

It has been a long road to get to making cheese “approachable” for Scott and Andrea Siefring-Robbins of Hamilton County.

Both share a family history including dairy production and a passion for good food. With breweries springing up in urban centers around the state showcasing their production process for customers to see first-hand, it seemed like a similar business model could be used for cheese.

“The light bulb hit for us when we were on a wine trip in California. We visited a cheesemaker and we had never seen cheese so approachable. It was a rural environment and people were visiting the manufacturing location and retail shop. It occurred to us we could do a version of that in an urban environment in Cincinnati,” said Andrea Siefring-Robbins, owner of Urban Stead Cheese. “We wanted to highlight the craft that goes into the cheese industry and, behind that, the dairy industry.… Continue reading

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Poll finds 10 best ice cream shops in Ohio

Nearly 15,000 ice cream lovers from throughout Ohio voted in Ohio Farm Bureau’s 3rd Annual Ohio Ice Cream Battle for their favorite go-to spot to cool off this summer with a cone, milkshake or banana split.

With nearly 27% of the overall votes, Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl in Muskingum County is the 2021 contest champion.

The informal survey was conducted on Facebook, and over 30 ice cream shops were represented in the final round.

Also making the Top 10 in this year’s Ohio Ice Cream Battle:

No. 2 Lil e’s Ice Cream, Union County

No. 3 Emma’s Frosty Kreme, Pike County

No. 4 Dietsch Brothers Ice Cream, Hancock County

No. 5 Cockeye Creamery, Trumbull County

No. 6 Jubie’s Creamery, Greene County

No. 7 Handel’s Ice Cream, Mahoning County

No. 8 Young’s Jersey Dairy, Greene County

No. 9 Whip-n-Dip, Ashtabula County

No.10 Toft’s Dairy & Ice Cream, Erie County

The Ohio Ice Cream Battle highlights the great tradition of Ohio Farm Bureau’s dairy farm families delivering high-quality milk for everyone to enjoy. … Continue reading

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Buyer beware with solar

By Linda Bishop, Findlay

The Toledo Zoo parking lot solar array is a perfect example of how and where solar panels should be placed to get double duty out of an area that is necessary, but not beautiful. 

In western Ohio, 84 or more solar installations of about 1,000 acres each are being planned. This means that 84,000 acres that will be taken out of farm production. This will change the landscape of western Ohio for upwards of 50 years depending upon the lease terms which are non-negotiable upon signing.

The land agents use less than honest tactics to get land from owners, first by choosing out of area owners, then the elderly within the area. If they sign a deal with the solar company, there is a confidentiality clause in the contract so opposing neighbors will not find out. The impact to neighbors needs to be considered when rural neighbors will find their properties completely surrounded by solar panels. … Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation offering Action and Awareness grants

The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation is currently considering applications from organizations addressing a variety of program areas within agriculture for its Action and Awareness grant program.

“We are proud to offer our Action & Awareness Grants each year to support local organizations as well as county Farm Bureaus in an effort to create positive, measurable impact throughout Ohio,” said Kelly Burns. Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation executive director. 

Through the grant program, the foundation funds programs in four core areas of giving:

• Education — Providing grants for professional development programs allowing individuals to advance their knowledge of agriculture, share ideas and improve people’s lives.

• Environment — Funding sensible solutions that contribute to a healthier, cleaner and more sustainable Ohio by focusing on increased care for land and water.

• Economic development — Capturing opportunities that build prosperity, create jobs and enhance the quality of life for Ohioans by funding projects that spur economic growth in local communities.… Continue reading

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Growing Women in Agriculture: An Empowerment Celebration

The Shelby County Growing Women in Agriculture committee is thrilled to bring back the Empowerment Celebration in 2021. The committee’s goal is to grow women involved in the agriculture community in our area. Since 2007 the number of women in agriculture has increased by 7% in the United States. With this evolving statistic in the industry, many new avenues for our community and state have developed in order to take advantage of these rising agriculture leaders. 

As a part of their efforts to grow the agriculture community in Shelby County would like to support local women in agriculture by holding our sixth annual “Growing Women in Agriculture, an Empowerment Celebration” event on Sept. 16, 2021, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, the early make and take session starts at 4:30 pm. The event will be held at St. Michael’s Hall, 33 Elm Street, in Fort Loramie. The evening will include a unique blend of educational and fun agriculture information, specifically targeted to the women in our community.… Continue reading

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Ohio Farm Bureau’s AgriPOWER welcomes new participants in elite training program

Eight farmers and agribusiness professionals have been selected to participate in Ohio Farm Bureau’s 2021-2022 AgriPOWER Institute. This yearlong program focuses on public policy issues confronting agriculture and the food industry such as consumer relations, regulations, energy, and trade policies. It helps individuals develop the skills necessary to become effective leaders and advocates for agriculture by learning from experts in these fields.

Class XII members are Brian Herringshaw of Bowling Green, Paige Hunt of Delta, Camille Klick of Massillon, Krysti Morrow of McConnelsville, Christine Snowden of New Albany, Melanie Strait-Bok of Ney, Greg Tholen of Lynchburg and Emily Warnimont of Findlay.

“These participants all have a passion for agriculture and see themselves in a leadership role in the future,” said Melinda Witten, AgriPOWER director. “Getting a better understanding of current issues and developing skills to lead and advocate for agriculture is what this program is all about, and we have a lot of great experiences planned for Class XII.”… Continue reading

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Open hearts and helping hands

By Sally McClaskey, Program Manager, Education & Marketing, Ohio 4-H Youth Development

For many 4-H’ers, showing the animals they’ve raised is a summer tradition. It’s the culmination of long hours of feeding, grooming and practicing, then taking the spotlight in the showring. And thanks to caring 4-H’ers in several counties, special needs youth also have the opportunity be in that spotlight.

The Open Hearts Livestock Show premiered last month at the Marion County Fair for youth with developmental disabilities. Five individuals, paired with a 4-H mentor, took to the ring, displaying their showmanship skills with pigs, rabbits and goats. 

Planning the Open Hearts show began two years ago when 4-H member Kyla Stockdale was inspired after she developed a special bond with a 4-H camper when she served as a counselor. It sparked her interest in pursuing a career working with special needs youth. When Kyla reached out to her 4-H educator, Margo Long, the Extension Educator in Marion County, Long encouraged her to visit the Holmes County Fair.… Continue reading

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USDA announces pandemic assistance for timber harvesters and haulers


The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing up to $200 million to provide relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that have experienced losses due to COVID-19 as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) July 22 through Oct. 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program (PATHH) is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, authorized this critical assistance for the timber industry. Timber harvesting and hauling businesses that have experienced a gross revenue loss of at least 10% during the period of Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2020, compared to the period of Jan. 1 and Dec. 1, 2019, are encouraged to apply.

“USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative promised to get financial assistance to a broader set of producers and today’s announcement delivers on that promise,” said Tom Vilsack, USDA Secretary.… Continue reading

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An upward spiral in corporate culture based on faith

By Matt Reese

We all have recent experience with “hard.” It’s doubtful 2020 was anyone’s favorite year, and for many of us it was very difficult. So where do people turn when life is hard and they need a listening ear, or help working out of a difficult situation, or a new way to look at a problem? 

Coach Belo

These were the questions that Kalmbach Feeds was asking on behalf of their team members in 2017. Fortunately, a great solution presented itself. Kalmbach welcomed Bob Belohlavek to their team as a “life coach” available to all of the company’s 700+ employees. Better known as “Coach Belo,” Belohlavek has spent his entire life dedicated to helping people. Since 2017, he has worked one-on-one with hundreds of Kalmbach team members on dozens of different topics and issues. Any issue that is important to that person is important to Coach Belo. Kalmbach understood the difficulty of trying to discuss tough situations, especially personal ones, with a boss or co-worker.… Continue reading

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Burnout: What it is and how it impacts you

By Bob Belohlavek, life coach for Kalmbach Feeds
Four phrases come to mind when considering our culture today. It’s fast-paced, stress-filled, demand-saturated, and relationship-starved. It’s understandable then, in light of such conditions, why good people burn out. 
It’s a state of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion brought on by too much stress over a long period of time. If you’ve been “crazy busy” for as long as you can remember, don’t be surprised if you lose enthusiasm, energy, perspective and purpose. Burnout feels as if you’re merely putting in time, not making waves, barely getting by, or going through the motions. Even though we may do our best with what we have to give, we may also find ourselves feeling as if we’re “at the end of our rope” during prolonged periods of work-related or personal stress.


Burnout creates a feeling of never-ending exhaustion. Symptoms of fatigue flag the fact that something’s wrong.… Continue reading

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Raw Milk: To drink or not to drink?

Some millennial parents believe that raw milk is a good dietary choice for their children. 

In my educated opinion, whole milk is certainly a healthy choice, for children and parents. But raw, unpasteurized milk? …. Ehh-nnn-ttt! (If you’re wondering, that’s my guess at how to spell the sound the wrong answer buzzer makes on a TV game show.) It’s what you hear before a contestant is sent off the set with a consolation prize, like a case of Rice-a-roni.

Researchers at UC-Davis in California agree with the game show judge’s call on this one. And they go even further in a study, in which they conclude that the natural bacteria in raw milk take on a generous dose of antimicrobial (antibiotic) resistant genes when the milk is left out of the fridge and allowed to warm to room temperature.

Their study recommends that if you’ve got raw milk — and a desire to drink it — you should keep it in your refrigerator until you’re ready to pour a glass.… Continue reading

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