Country Life

Hillbilly hot tub update…

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

Success! Stretching out in an 180-gallon stock tank, my bride and I (finally) soaked in 104 degree water watching the sun set over the Kokosing River last weekend in our homemade hot tub. To boost the DIY rig’s heating capacity, I wrapped the propane heater’s “chimney” with a piece of sheet metal to partially block the vents in order to better contain and concentrate the heat on the copper tubing I coiled within. Then I added a small 12-volt pump to the cool-water outflow from the tub to help circulate the water through the super-heated piping and Voila! Inside an hour we had 104 degree temps and actually had to turn off the heater when the water got too hot.

No, it’s not totally off the grid, thanks to the tiny 12-volt pump ($12 on eBay) that we hooked up via its transformer plug to a ground fault interrupter-wired receptacle.… Continue reading

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Understanding important solar lease terms

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

With all the rain and delayed planting that Ohio farmers have experienced this spring, signing a solar lease has been a very appealing prospect for many farmland owners. While this may be the right decision for a farm, it is very important that the farmland owner understand exactly what he or she is signing. Once an energy developer offers to pay you to enter into an agreement, and you sign that agreement, its terms will be legally binding.

We wanted to highlight some of the important provisions of a solar lease that you as a farmland owner should look for in your solar lease, and understand what they mean. A good solar lease will be very thorough, and include a lot of legalese. It would be a wise decision to consult with an attorney to ensure that your understanding of your solar lease reflects what the documents say.… Continue reading

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Hands-on opportunities to learn the art of perfect grilling

The next summer get-together is just around the corner.

Family, friends, or old classmates will be in town.

It’s the perfect time for inviting them over to grill out for dinner . . . or is it?

Few things can satisfy or impress family and friends like the aroma, tenderness, juiciness, and deep rich flavor of a steak or chop grilled to perfection. However, there may not be anything that strikes as much apprehension and fear into the hearts of a dinner host, as that of failing to correctly select, prepare and grill the perfect steak. If you’ve ever struggled with the angst of whether you can pull off that perfect meal and eating experience of dinner originating from your grill, then the Grill Smart class is designed for you.

Grill Smart is a program adapted by Henry County OSU Extension Educator, Garth Ruff from the Barbecue Science class that is taught annually on campus at The Ohio State University.… Continue reading

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Ohio case law update

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program

Here’s our latest gathering of Ohio agricultural case law news that you may want to know.

Plaintiff must prove that a defendant wedding barn operator’s breach of a duty caused her harm

Conrad Botzum Farmstead is a privately operated wedding and event barn located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area and on lease from the National Park Service. The plaintiff in the case was attending a wedding at the barn, where she broke her ankle while dancing on a wooden deck. The jury trial found that the barn operator was 51% at fault for her injuries, and awarded the plaintiff compensation. However, the barn operator appealed the decision and won. The Ohio Ninth District Court of Appeals found that the plaintiff did not introduce sufficient evidence to prove that any act or breach of duty by the barn operator actually or proximately caused the plaintiff to fall and break her ankle.… Continue reading

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Governor DeWine requests USDA disaster designation for farmers impacted by heavy rains

Last week Ohio Governor Mike DeWine sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue requesting a USDA Secretarial disaster designation for Ohio amid heavy rainfall impacting Ohio farmers.

In his letter, Governor DeWine notes that record rainfall through the spring planting season has been devastating to Ohio farmers, with flooding and saturated fields preventing them from planting crops. Only 50% of Ohio’s corn crop and 32% of Ohio’s soybean crop have been planted as of June 10, 2019.

“The harsh reality for Ohio farmers is that many acres will remain unplanted,” Governor DeWine said. “Our dairy and livestock sectors also face serious forage and feed shortages. We recognize the tremendous challenges facing our agricultural community, and we are working to identify any and all sources of possible relief.”

The letter is a formal request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a USDA disaster declaration for Ohio so that assistance can be made available to Ohio farmers.… Continue reading

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Crop progress report shows corn leveling off, beans still going

Much of the State received higher than normal amounts of rain last week, according to Cheryl Turner, State Statistician, USDA NASS, Ohio Field Office. There were 2.5 days suitable for fieldwork in Ohio during the week ending June 16. Temperatures slumped nearly 6 degrees below normal. Corn and soybean planted progress increased but were still well behind their 5-year averages. Wheat began to mature and was rated 65 percent fair to good condition. There were reports of hay fields and pastures that were difficult or impossible to mow due to increased soil moisture levels. Operators making haylage found it easier to stay on schedule than those making dry hay. First cutting progress for alfalfa and other hay also lagged behind their 5-year averages. Oats planted progress crept to 91 percent while oats reached the headed stage slower than the 5-year average. From the national scene, USDA reports that 100% of corn is planted, likely indicating that no more planting will take place.… Continue reading

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Second sign-up period announced for Western Lake Erie Basin

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is announcing the second sign-up period for programs in the Western Lake Erie Basin funded by the passage of Ohio Senate Bill 299. Signed in 2018, Ohio Senate Bill 299 provided $23.5 million for soil and water conservation districts (SWCD) located in the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) for nutrient management programs.

ODA says that two programs have been a success so far this year, the Ohio Working Lands Hay Buffer Program and the Ohio Working Lands Small Grains Program. ODA Director Dorothy Pelanda announced that there are funds remaining for a second round of program sign-ups.

The Ohio Working Lands Hay Buffer Program encourages producers in the WLEB to establish year-round vegetative cover on eligible cropland. The program promotes the conversion, establishment, and maintenance of forage/hay land on certain cropland acres. These buffers act as another line of defense to filter surface water while allowing participants to harvest forage from the established areas.… Continue reading

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Weather, tariffs, lack of planting yields increasing farm stress

By Kolt Buchenroth

The stagnant commodity prices, an ongoing trade war, and the uncertainty of tariffs impacting the farm economy are reason enough to induce plenty of stress in a farmer’s life. Add in the unprecedented rainfall most of the Buckeye State has seen this spring, rising input costs, and market volatility and Ohio’s agriculture community is facing a perfect storm for developing high levels of farm stress.

Ohio State University Family and Consumer Science Extension Educator Jami Delllifield is advocating around the state and the country for the mental health of the agriculture community. She has taken note of the heightened farm stress situation this growing season.

“We can’t control this. There is absolutely nothing right now that is within anyone’s control. Everything is just coming at us and it just seems to keep building. Plus, farmers are at an increased risk because their profession is isolated. They spend all day and night alone in a tractor with their thoughts,” Delliefield said.… Continue reading

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Senate subcommittee taking a look at water rule

The EPA’s latest proposal to define which waters can be regulated by the federal government and which by state and local authorities is a vast improvement over previous efforts, Wyoming Farm Bureau President Todd Fornstrom told the Senate subcommittee on Fisheries, Waters, and Wildlife in June.

Expensive professional services needed to comply with the Clean Water Act, he said, too often make it impossible for farmers to use their own land to its fullest.

“Farm Bureau cannot overstate the importance of a rule that draws clear lines of jurisdiction that farmers and ranchers can understand without needing to hire armies of consultants and lawyers,” Fornstrom told the subcommittee. “The (Clean Water Act) carries significant fines and penalties for persons who violate the Act’s prohibitions. Historically, farmers and ranchers have chosen to forfeit full use and enjoyment of their land rather than go down the onerous and expensive path of seeking CWA 404 permits.… Continue reading

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Feeding Farmers Week One | Jeff Puthoff

The Ohio Ag Net crew team traveled to West Central Ohio for the first of the Feeding Farmers events in 2019. Dale visited with Jeff Puthoff and his family who farms corn, soybeans, wheat, and runs a holstein feedlot operation.

A notable crowd of about 40 turned out to the celebration where the group talked about their wet growing season and crops that are behind what’s been seen just south of the area.

You can nominate yourself or a neighbor at

 … Continue reading

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New technology aims to improve taste, shelf life, production of food and beverages

Just in time for summer — a new technology to improve the taste, quality and shelf life of juice and other beverages, and help craft brewers make more beer.

Purdue University-affiliated startup Induction Food Systems (IFS) has finished the major first round of testing on a technology system to provide on-demand heating options for food and beverage manufacturers.

“We were tired of seeing the old-school processes for heating food and beverages during manufacturing,” said Francesco Aimone from Columbia University, who co-founded IFS with George Sadler, an alumnus of Purdue’s College of Agriculture. “Those legacy systems like steam are slow, energy-consuming and can take away some of the food’s natural flavors and textures.”

IFS plans to launch in the next few months its first go-to-market line, which involves a fluid heating system for use in the manufacturing of beer, water products and juices.

Aimone said their technology increases the speed and efficiency for producing beverages and foods, and helps manufacturers grow.… Continue reading

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Exploring the beer brewing process after a Super Bowl corn-troversy

By Joel Penhorwood

It all started with a Super Bowl ad.

Those little 30 to 60 second blips on the screen, usually meant to be funny (sometimes they actually are), had one ad from beer maker Bud Light that touted in a roundabout way the fact that Bud Light is made without corn syrup, which they also pointed out was being used by their competitors.

Corn growers were quick to respond, including the National Corn Growers Association releasing a statement saying the ads were misleading and portrayed corn syrup in a negative light. In recent weeks, a judge has even ordered Anheuser-Busch (the parent company of the Bud Light brand) to stop using the words “corn syrup” in attack ads without more context. It is the result of an ongoing lawsuit by competitor MillerCoors.

The fact is that yes, Bud Light is made without the use of corn syrup, though rice is used in its stead to derive the sugars essential in the beer brewing process.… Continue reading

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Taxes on farmland dropping steadily

Taxes, on average, are going down for owners of farmland across Ohio and are expected to decline at an even faster rate beginning in 2020, a study by researchers with The Ohio State University shows.

The average value of agricultural land across the state has dropped by a third since a recent change in how the state calculates taxes for farmland owners, according to a study by Robert Dinterman and Ani Katchova, two agricultural economists with the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES).

Starting in 2020, farmland values in the state likely will drop by another one-third, said Dinterman, a postdoctoral researcher with CFAES. With values going down, owners of agricultural land in the state should see similar declines in their taxes.

“Farmers, I would think, would be pretty pleased to see their taxes going down,” Dinterman said.

2017 was the first year some owners of agricultural land in Ohio saw a break in taxes.… Continue reading

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Ohio agriculture looking for options and increased flexibility as rains continue

Yesterday, Ohio’s commodity groups penned a joint letter to Secretary Sonny Perdue, asking for previsions to allow planting and normal harvest, including making silage and baleage, and grazing of forage crops/cover crops on prevent plant acreage for 2019 without penalty and without date restrictions. They also asked the Secretary to allow harvest, that includes making silage and baleage, and grazing of forages on CRP ground and all eligible acres for 2019 without penalty and date restrictions.

These groups also met with Director Pelanda at the Ohio Department of Agriculture, Leonard Hubert, Ohio State Executive Director of USDA Farm Service Agency and Governor DeWine’s staff to discuss how and when a Secretarial Disaster Declaration can be made and what benefit it might provide to our farmers who have been affected by the most challenging planting season on record. Here is the letter.

Dear Secretary Perdue: The planting struggles taking place in Ohio this year are well documented.… Continue reading

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ODA announces expansion of Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan Development Program

The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) and the Ohio Agribusiness Association are announcing the expansion of the Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan Development to all 4R Certified Nutrient Dealers in the Western Lake Erie Basin.

Started as a pilot program with two 4R certified Nutrient Retail providers, the Voluntary Nutrient Management Plan Development Program is a partnership with the Ohio Agribusiness Association, in which producers are reimbursed for nutrient management plans. The Voluntary Nutrient Management Plans will help to ensure that the 4R principles are put into place.

“The pilot program was a great success and is one more way to encourage farmers to practice the 4R principles on their farms,” Pelanda said. “We are proud to expand this program that helps farmers implement Nutrient Management Plans that work towards our common goals of soil and water conservation.”

Producers located in the Western Lake Erie Basin are encouraged to contact their local 4R Nutrient Certified dealers to learn more and sign up for the program.… Continue reading

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Funding available for farmers through Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program

The Ohio Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Division of Soil and Water Conservation is making farmers aware of funding available to farmers through the Lake Erie Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP).

CREP is the country’s largest private-land conservation program. Administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency in partnership with the ODA and local soil and water conservation districts, CREP targets high-priority conservation concerns in exchange for removing environmentally sensitive land from production. In return for establishing permanent resource-conserving plant species, farmers are paid an annual rental rate along with other federal and state incentives as applicable per each CREP agreement. Participation is voluntary, and the contract period is typically 15 years.

“Farmers are continually looking for innovative ways to practice conservation on their farms,” said Dorothy Pelanda, Director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture. “This program provides great opportunities to make positive contributions to our state’s water quality while allowing farms to remain productive.”… Continue reading

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Why do septic systems malfunction?

By Karen Mancl, Professor Food, Agricultural & Biological Engineering

A soft, smelly spot in the yard or sewage backing up into the home are obvious signs of a septic system malfunction. Other failures are not always apparent, however, and can result in untreated wastewater contaminating streams, ditches, or groundwater. In these cases, the property owner may not even be aware their system is creating a public health concern.


Malfunction or failure?

Systems that are not functioning properly can either be malfunctioning or failing. Malfunctioning systems are those that were properly designed and installed but are not operating as designed. Issues with malfunctioning systems can usually be easily resolved to bring the system back into compliance. A failed system is one that was not properly designed and/or installed, has been used improperly, or has reached its maximum lifetime of about 20 to 30 years. Failing systems require major renovation or replacement to be brought back into compliance.… Continue reading

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Fishing and camping sojourns in southeastern Ohio

By Mike Ryan, OCJ field reporter

This summer, embrace the proverb: ”Everyone should believe in something…I believe I’ll go fishing.”

The Appalachian foothills in southeastern Ohio offer unique camping and fishing opportunities. Although the region is not famed for its piscatorial pursuits, several well-managed state parks with large, picturesque lakes dot this wild, forested landscape, giving dedicated fishermen endless hours of entertainment in a land where the deep woods meet the water.

Outdoorsman Trent Ball frequents these southeastern state park lakes in the summer, taking his children fishing for bass, catfish, and panfish as often as time allows.

A man who appreciates the beauty of nature and the importance of outdoor pursuits, Trent values the time he spends fishing with his family.

“I like to go fishing with my kids, especially at Lake Logan and Burr Oak Lake. I like being able to get to the lake early in the morning and put a full day of fishing in without getting home late at night, so proximity plays a big part in where I can go for the day,” Ball said.… Continue reading

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Cheese curds!

By Shelly Detwiler, berry farmer and dietician

Over the years we’ve talked about the importance of dairy, ice cream and cheese but let’s talk cheese curds. One cool thing about fresh cheese curds is that they can squeak! That’s right, squeak! The National Dairy Council says that this squeak is from the tightly woven protein that when it “rebounds” off our teeth creates a squeak. Don’t worry if you don’t hear a squeak, the experts at NDC say sometimes the conditions in the cheesemaking process change and there never was a squeak to be made.

What exactly is a cheese curd? Fresh cheese curds are squeaky irregular bite-sized cheese. They are basically the first step in cheese making. It all starts with about 10 pounds of un-ultra-pasteurized milk to make 1-pound cheese curds. Acid is added to milk, coagulated using rennet, then heated and cut. The whey (liquid) is separated from the solid “baby bite-size” pieces (the curds).… Continue reading

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