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VOLUME 1, ISSUE 4

of West Central Ohio mEHS? s<NI= eF ZE<@ iWFT

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1-800-678-4188 Raising Thanksgiving turkeys can be a complicated process THIS EDITION Rising grain prices pose challenge 2332338

Inside

■ Champaign County Century Farm page 3

■ Jerseys propel Young’s Dairy page 4

■ Amish farmers in Logan County page 7

■ Shelby County fish farm page 9

BY STEPHANI DUFF editorial@tdnpublishing.com NEW CARLISLE–Second generation ownership and innovative techniques allow Bowman and Landes to offer customers the best in poultry products for not just Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Carl Bowman, second generation co-owner of Bowman Landes, explained the process of getting a turkey ready for Thanksgiving dinner. “We get them as a one day old poult, which TDN Photo/STEPHAN I DUFF gives us the opportunity to take the time to get them barn ready; that requires that we keep them in small bunches under heat lamps to keep them from smothering each other and near the heat. This process is quite labor intensive and then they will be in the barn for seven weeks,” Bowman explained. “Once they reach seven weeks we let them out doors to free range; they have to be seven weeks to withstand the weather and are strong enough to fight off small animal predators.” Bowman said they start out each year with approximately 70,000 turkeys with some dying from natural causes or from predators; they run this large operation with one shift of people in charge of production of turkey and growing of grains of around 2,700 acres of corn, soy beans and wheat. Bowman Landes has around 30 employees year round and seasonally, in November and

TURKEYS at Bowman and Landes in New Carlisle are herded by workers.

December, get up to around 170 employees for harvesting. Although Bowman and Landes is largely known for their production of Thanksgiving Day turkeys they also grow turkeys for processing, such as breasts and roasts, and whole turkeys for their small, in house meat market. Bowman said the majority of their marketing is done directly with a small amount of direct store delivery. “We also have small distributors in Indiana and Delaware who have connections with health food stores on the East Coast and co-ops, but our primary marketing is in Ohio and southern Indiana,” Bowman said. Bowman and Landes’ claim to fame is that their turkeys are raised free range and on a diet that is antibiotic free, but the real selling point is that there is no animal by-product in the feed that the turkeys receive. “We give them a mixture of corn, soy meal, vitamins, minerals, micro nutrients and vegetable oil versus animal fat,” explained Bowman. “Our turkeys are conditioned to be the best Thanksgiving Day turkeys because of how we grow them, exercise them, and because we don’t use growth promotants; they eat more because they are more active and burning more calories.” According to Bowman cts pe ins AN CARL BOWM the biggest obstacle they of ck flo his of part turkeys. See Turkey/page 2

■ Meat rabbit business blossoms page 11

Editor Jeff Billiel welcomes suggestions from readers of ACRES of West Central Ohio. Forward your comments and/or story ideas to him online at editorwc@acresmidwest.com. Letters to the editor will also be considered for publication in ACRES and may be emailed to the same address. Letters and comments may also be sent via USPS to Editor, ACRES of West Central Ohio, c/o Sidney Daily News, 1451 N. Vandemark Road, Sidney, OH 45365. TDN Photo/STEPHANI DUFF

Farm fires: when the unthinkable happens

FAMILY AND friends help clean up after a major barn fire that occurred this summer on a Shelby County farm.

SDN Photo/LUKE GRON NEBERG

BY MIKE SEFFRIN mseffrin@sdnccg.com

impact on farm

operations. Farmers have many things to worry about: the weather, crops, livestock, fertilizer According to the Fire Prevention Bureau of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, fires prices, equipment maintenance and purchases, when to plant and harvest. But some damaged or destroyed 545 barns in the state last year, causing nearly $11 million in have had to deal with yet another worry — fire. losses, nine civilian injuries and 12 firefighter injuries. Fires destroy buildings and equipment and kill livestock, and even in if they Dairy farmer Ken Pleiman, of the Fort Loramie area in Shelby County, knows don’t spread to a farmer’s house and threaten the family, they can have a devastating See Farm fires/page 2

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Acres of West Central Ohio •November 2012 • Page 2

No ‘down time’ for farmers “So,” people who don’t know what the life of a So the winter months may be as busy as any other farmer is really like may ask, “what do farmers do time of the year for farmers. during the winter between fall harvest and spring Speaking of winter issues, the failure to pass the planting? Long vacation? Winter job? Catch up on expired federal Farm Bill may be costing to not only TV?” farmers but American con The truth, of course, is that the life of a farmer doesn’t end after harvest and start again in the weeks before spring planting. A farmer’s life is 365 days a year. It is true that the winter months are different. But that is all. Just… different. Any farmer will tell you that from the time they finish the fall harvest until the day they begin to prepare the fields for planting in early spring they are working on some farm-related project. Maybe they are checking out new seeds, deciding what seeds will be best for the next season and what new hybrids are ready for the ground. Then they must place their seed orders. And they had better not wait until anywhere near the last minute or they might be out of luck. And they must order their fertilizer for the next year. Then there is all the farm equipment. Once harvest is done, the tractors, combines and other equipment isn’t just driven into a smidwest.com barn to sit for three or four months. gbrock@acre Winter is the time to do repairs on the trucks sumers as well. and tractors and equipment. It is time to order The Tampa Bay Tribune recently reported that and install replacement parts. It is time to refurbish everything and “winterize” all of that expensive farm milk prices per gallon could skyrocket if a new bill equipment. And all that tender loving care takes lots isn’t approved this winter. When the Farm Bill expired Sept. 30, so did the of time.

Milk Income Loss Contract program. It was a safety net providing payments when national milk prices drop in contrast to feed costs. When the new farm bill did not pass this year, and the old one expired, the MILC program halted and was not replaced. And the paper reported that this will impact dairy farmers across the nation. The Tribune reports that without a farm bill by the end of this year, an old permanent law would take effect. The Congressional Research Service says the government would be mandated to set crop and milk prices at “parity” — the purchasing power of those crops in 1910-1914, when, according to a 1930s study, a farmer’s earning power and purchasing power were equal. MILC, and other dairy support programs, have prevented imposition of parity. But it could be imposed in 2013 if a new farm bill isn’t passed. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that could raise the price of milk in stores to $6 a gallon. Here in southern Ohio it is about $3 a gallon average. The prices of milk, cheese and butter are all on the increase. So let’s hope that after the election, Congress will return for a “lame duck” session and include in it’s priorities passage of a new federal Farm Bill. Partisan concerns stalled it this fall. Let’s hope that will be put aside after the November election.

Outlook

Gary Brock

Farm fires

Gary Brock is editor-in-chief of ACRES

continued from page 1

what a fire can do to a farming operation. In January 2009, he lost two barns, livestock and equipment in a blaze. He didn’t have time to contemplate his losses, however. There were cows to milk. “We just loaded up our heifers and took them to other farms,” said Pleiman, who was helped by friends and neighbors. “We built the new barn and got them back in there.” Some of the surviving cows are still feeling the effects of the fire several years later. Pleiman said a few heifers suffered lung damage from the smoke. “They’re still not doing very good,” he said. “It kind of stunted their growth.” Pleiman milks about 75 to 80 head of cattle. His herd totals 160, with heifers and small calves. The fire struck on a foggy night while Pleiman was sleeping. It was so foggy that the blaze apparently had a good start before anyone saw it. “It (barn) was burned down when people found it,” Pleiman said. “There was absolutely nothing left.” Pleiman milks twice a day, so there was no time to waste in getting his operation back under way. “You’ve got to start cleaning up right away,” he said. Pleiman observed the situation was worse because it was winter. Warmer weather would have made things easier. Pleiman had some experience with farm fires. A fire occurred on his uncle’s farm a few years earlier.“He lost he his big barn, too,” Pleiman said. He helped his uncle after

that fire, and also his wife’s nephew, after a separate fire. So, when Pleiman suffered his loss, he didn’t lack for assistance. “We had plenty of help,” he said. Like other farmers who have suffered fire losses before and since, Pleiman realized that work still needed to be done despite the tragedy. “You don’t think much about it,” he said, “you just jump in and do it.” Pleiman said investigators believe his fire began in a skid loader with an electrical problem.

Turkey continued from page 1

are facing in the poultry industry right now is the price of grain and soy having almost doubled, but the consolation to that is that in stores all proteins and vegetables are rising in cost, as well. Disease prevention also is something that Bowman Landes is serious about, so they must be careful about who is around the turkeys as well as giving them pro-biotics, using acids and enAs for concern about the possibility of future fires, zymes. As Bowman Landes raises their turkeys in a free Pleiman said, “There’s not really much you can do. range, antibiotic free environment, they are finding that You just have to hope it doesn’t happen again.” they are meeting consumer expectations. “Free range and antibiotic free animal raising is very Mike Seffrin is a reporter for the en vogue right now and that makes it easier to meet the Sidney Daily News. expectations of our consumers,” Bowman said. “People have come to expect that turkey is a healthier option for eating lean versus red meat so we meet those expectations by providing different turkey products other than whole turkeys; we have turkey pastrami, turkey ham, smoked turkey, and mesquite turkey, as well as turkey filets, turkey mignon (a turkey breast with turkey bacon around it) and turkey cube steaks.” Bowman has noticed that the trend of hospitals and colleges wanting turkeys is on the rise; “Better proteins and buying local seem to be an increased interest and we are coming to find that our turkeys are no longer just for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables.” Carl Bowman is co-owner of Bowman Landes with his sister, Anita, and two other partners, Stan and Steve Landes; all four co-owners are second generation and they have younger generations working at the company full time now, too. For more information on production, pricing, history and how to order your Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, visit bowmanlandes.com.

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Acres of West Central Ohio •November 2012 • Page 3

Detwiler Farm receives ‘Century Farm’ status BY CRAIG SHIRK WEST LIBERTY – Detwiler Farm, Upper Valley Pike, recently became the ninth farm in Champaign County and one of 934 in Ohio to be recognized by the state’s Century Farms program. Administered by the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the program pays tribute to farms maintained by a family line for 100 consecutive years or more. With the status, the Detwilers receive a certificate signed by the governor and may display the Century Farms logo at their homestead just north of West Liberty-Salem High School. Tom Detwiler, co-owner and resident, is grandson to one of the first taskmasters of the farm, Rufus Detwiler, who purchased it in 1904 from the original owners. The 1,200-acre property was cultivated as early as 1817, according to Detwiler and his wife, Pat. The couple made it their home in the 1960s, maintaining the original fireplaces, wrought iron fence and overall structure of the farm house now almost 200 years old. “We thought this would be a neat designation,” Mrs. Detwiler said of attaining the Century Farms status. “It’s been such an honor to have it in the family for that many years.” “It was quite a process,” her husband said. Citing the program’s qualifications, he said they devoted hours of research and scanning of documents to validate the farm’s ties to his lineage. Sharing the honor is Tom’s brother, John, an equal partner of the business responsible for half the farm’s operations since the 1960s. The homestead has been a family effort, however, and the legacy includes to a large degree all members, including the Detwilers’ three children, six grandchildren, one great-grandchild and many others over four generations. The 108-year legacy has significant meaning to the Detwilers, highlighting achievements born of a tireless work ethic and of commitment to family. “It was a wonderful life for raising children because the kids always had chores, always had responsibilities and they could spend time with their dad. They always had access to him,” Mrs. Detwiler said. “They are the light of our lives.” Despite having jobs removed from the family farm today, Kathy, Andy and Matthew are still integral parts of their father and uncle’s operation and they all live within four miles of the farm. When Andy isn’t traveling the country showing his champion goats and when Matthew isn’t working at Honda, the brothers help run the grain carts and do various tasks in the fields. The oldest, Kathy, works in West Liberty and also finds time to help with the farm. Meanwhile, the grandchildren are active in many of the same activities their parents enjoyed: band, 4-H, FFA, sports and anything musical. The full-time guys, Tom and John, still run the tractors and combines. Having expanded to a farm on state Route 507 as well, the

group stays plenty busy and enjoys every minute. Raising corn nuts started in the early 1990s and “(Tom) smiles all the way through his cereal every ended around 1998 when the corn processing plant in morning,” his wife said. “Every job to him is fun.” Urbana was bought. It proved to be a good money She claims the best time of year is harvest season. crop, said Mrs. Detwiler. “How exciting harvest time was, when the kids Regardless of weather, the soil continues to provide strong corn and soybean yields. Even floods and could ride in the tractors with their dad,” she said, droughts have failed to affect harvests signifiadding the farm cantly, the Detwilers said. has become a “What we do have is ours, and central gatherit’s good ground,” Mr. Detwiler ing place for her PAT AND TOM Detwiler said. growing family stand by their Ohio Cen“I can’t ever say we had a year today. tury Farm sign at their where we were living hand and The Detwilers home on Upper Valley Pike mouth or anything like that,” Mrs. have seated as in Champaign County. added. Detwiler many as 43 peoWhen Detwiler’s grandfather reple in their tired from the farm in the 1930s home for and moved to West Liberty, his son Thanksgiving Howard purchased the property dinner. They’ve and continued the legacy until he made extensive moved to Michigan. Thereafter, renovations to Howard’s brother Lawrence, Tom’s their roughly father, cash rented the farm until 3,000-squarehis sons took ownership in the foot home, 1960s. built in 1817, Changes made since then likely to make these would baffle Rufus today. occasions pos“I think he’d be amazed,” his sible. One grandson said. such renovaIn the early 1900s, Rufus and his tion had them sons worked the soil with the help of fearing the horses. Much of the work comprised upstairs hard, manual labor. Today, tractors might fall drive themselves. into the liv“Nothing was too easy back then,” ing room, Mr. Detwiler said. “It has been a 100 UDC Photo/ALEX HOW ELL Mrs. Detwiler percent change (from horses to tracrecalled with tors with their own guidance systems) … It would go a chuckle. clear around the world straight because it’s directed What remains of the home’s original brick was by satellite.” taken from clay found on the property in the early Even the slightest deviation from a straight line triggers an alarm, he explained. 1800s. In addition, Detwiler’s grandfather built the The need for bigger and better equipment spurred storage barn in 1913 from trees taken from a section design changes in the century-old storage barn. Mr. of the farm bordering U.S. Route 68. The property also holds the original hog house and corn crib, both Detwiler made a bigger door, scaled back the hay loft and installed an I-beam to accommodate the upconverted to storage areas for the farm’s equipment grades. and for a few toys such as Tom’s antique tractors. Amid the variables, the Detwilers are assured of The 1,200-acre farm comprises some woodland but is almost entirely corn and soybeans. It had included one constant: Family and community come first. “We’re really fortunate to live in a community like a profitable dairy herd until 1988 and supported corn this,” Mr. Detwiler said, remembering the outpour of nuts, a specialty produced in Champaign County and support the family received when their 2 1/2-year-old parts of California, during the 1990s. son, Andy, sustained serious injuries from falling into One of the top dairy feeder herds in the nation, a grain auger years ago. Tom and John’s herd sold for a good price, and Tom “That’s when you really find out who your friends wasn’t entirely sad to see it go. Mrs. Detwiler said. are,” “With milking, if you do it yourself, you’re married For the Detwilers, “good ground” is more than soil. to it,” he remarked. “It was great having all that free It is the foundation, the bond between loved ones time, seeing the kids’ activities (after the herd was achieving common goals, the values passed down gone).” from generations and the community that enables it “We did everything together,” Mrs. Detwiler added. to happen. “When the kids got in 4-H and started showing at the Craig Shirk writes for the fair, that was a good time. It was a vacation for us.” Urbana Daily Citizen

Soil health directly related to productivity at harvest Harvesting this year’s soybean and corn crops yielded many surprises. Depending on where fields were located, timely showers may or may not have delivered sufficient moisture necessary for good yields. Numerous farmers binned bushels beyond their expectations while many others were disappointed in crop productivity. Reported soybean yields varying from 20 to nearly 80 bushels within the same field, and corn fields producing between 50 and 200 bushels in different areas according to combine monitors, illustrated challenges for seed selection, fertility programs, drainage, pest management, tillage choices and overall soil management. The soil health issue appears to be attracting more and more interest from crop producers. Higher yields almost always come from soils that appear to be healthier. Most farmers credit darker, well drained bottom ground with significantly higher production potential. While those soils are treasured, they often are not the dominant soil types within field boundaries. Consequently, growers continue to seek ways to bring lighter colored soils on slopes and hilltops closer in productivity to the higher valued areas of the field. Soil health is often equated with soil tilth. If the physical condition for growing plants is good, the tilth is good. Such soils are porous, allowing water to enter easily, instead of running off of the surface. These soils also store more water in the soils for crop use and suffer less from erosion. Healthy soils are also well aerated, enabling roots to easily access oxygen and nutrients throughout the soil profile. Good soil tilth is exemplified by large soil aggregates, numerous root and worm channels and pores of various sizes. Such structure resists, but is not immune to compaction caused by trafficking on wet soil. Organic matter is a key ingredient for increasing soil tilth and improving soil health. Many studies on agricultural and undisturbed woodland/grassland soils show that the increase in organic matter is directly related to less compaction with more water and air holding capacity. Crop residue left on the soil surface helps intercept raindrops, reducing their impact and lessening the chance for dislodged soil particles to erode. In addition, slowing the movement of

Ag

Scene

Roger Bender rbender@landstewards.com

water flowing across the field allows more time for water to infiltrate into the topsoil and also helping limit erosion. The decomposition of plant roots and surface residue, pulled into the soil by worms and other organisms, produces sticky substances that help bind mineral particles into aggregates that contribute to increased soil porosity. A Penn State Extension reference on improving soil health discusses aggregate stability or soil tilth relative to improving soil health. It states that besides organic matter, crop rotations and crop mixtures can help to improve the aggregation of soils. They advise that when designing crop rotations, take the following factors into account: (1) crops with extensive, fine root systems such as grasses and cereals that stimulate aggregate stability; (2) perennial

crops in the rotation have a favorable effect on aggregation that lasts many years; and (3) actively growing root systems improve aggregation. Crops with easily decomposed residue (C:N ration below 25) stimulate aggregate stability in the short term because bacteria feast on the residue, producing polysaccharides and other easily degradable organic substances that act as glue holding aggregates together. Such crops would include legumes and succulent young cover crops. Harvested grass type crops like small grains and corn leave a mature residue that have a high C:N ratio, more difficult to decompose. Soil amendments such as livestock manures also stimulate the biological activity that helps improve aggregate stability. Finding the right mix of soil health enhancing management strategies is an ongoing challenge for all crop farmers. All farmers are unique in their quest to improve soil productivity. Attending informational meetings, reading magazine articles, researching the issue on-line and asking questions are all methods to increase your soil health knowledge base. On a humorous note, I saw a T-shirt this summer that read: “Without Agronomy, You would be Hungry, Naked and Sober.” Roger Bender is a retired Shelby County Agricultural Agent with the OSU Extension Service. He currently works as a consultant for Land Stewards, LLC, and works the family farm near Fort Loramie.

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Acres of West Central Ohio •November 2012 • Page 4

“Jersey

Girls”

Jersey cattle provide main ingredient for Young’s Dairy products BY SHARON SEMANIE editorial@dailycall.com YELLOW SPRINGS — There’s a “Jersey Girls” production now playing in southwestern Ohio. Unlike the male vocalists who popularized the musical “Jersey Boys,” these 30 performers represent the “cream of the crop” with names such as Blondie, Bonnie, Kim and Snowflake. They are 900-pound bovine beauties — Jersey cattle — who provide the main ingredient for dairy products made at Young’s Jersey Farm on Route 68 north of Yellow Springs. Chief Executive Officer Dan Young — who references his job title as chief ice cream dipper — has been instrumental in the success of the spacious dairy farm which prides itself in the motto “We create fun for our customers.” On an average day, more than 9,000 patrons visit Young’s to sample the nearly 100 mouthwatering flavors of ice cream along with the wide variety of farmstead cheeses produced on-site. Altogether, Young’s produces more than 70,000 gallons of ice cream annually along with 30,000 pounds of cheese varieties such as Colby and pepper jack, fresh cheddar curds, apple wood smoked cheddar and baby Photo provided Swiss. Young’s history began in 1869, when relatives of the Young family built the red barn with its bark-covered beams still standing on the premises. adjacent to the ice cream freezers in the former Hap Young reportedly purchased the 60-acre farm dairy store. The word “farmstead,” notes cousin Stewand house shortly after World War II and, for the art Young, “means we produce the cheese on our farm next decade, he and his three sons — Carl, Bob and using Jersey milk 100 percent from our own cows.” Bill — farmed the acreage plus upwards to 500 addi- Stewart himself oversees the “closed herd” of cattle tional rented acres where they grew grain, raised who are raised on the feed grown on the farm and are hogs and milked cows. not treated with any growth hormones. To begin the It wasn’t until 1958, when the Young clan opted to cheese-making process, milk is pasteurized at 140 desell Jersey milk directly to the public and opened its grees for 45 minutes to make Colby, Monterey jack, first sales room, a 10-foot by 10-foot area adjacent to pepper jack and fresh cheddar curd varieties. “When the milk room. Equipment, reports Dan Young and we make our aged cheddar and baby Swiss we use cousin Stuart Young, was “modest” and included glass non-pasteurized milk. We age these cheeses for a jugs, a refrigerator, a cash drawer and the honor sys- minimum of 60 days. The process of aging the cheese tem. Customers could simply drive up, open the rekills any harmful bacteria that may be present in the frigerator, pick up a gallon of milk, leave an empty milk.” jug container and money and return home. Subsequent steps call for cooling the milk back Because there was a down to about 90 degrees then add the cheese culture market for before adding the renfarm fresh milk, the Youngs built YOUNG'S DAIRY plant manager Mike and opened Randall oversees cheese making at the its first real Clark County dairy farm. The Jersey dairy store herd on site produces milk for the in 1960 and Farmstead cheeses also made for the began dipdairy store and restaurants. ping ice cream plus other dairy products such as cheese and snack foods. The small building remains attached to the big red barn and represents the space where Youngs makes PDC Photo/SHARON SEM ANIE its luscious ice net, which begins cream today. the process of coagulating the casein protein in the Young — a third generation family members — milk to make curds. After the cheese has set, the curd notes that milk and cream for the ice cream mixture is cut into small is purchased from Reiter Dairy in Springfield. The pieces and the Jerseys herd on site produce milk for the Farmstead whey — liquid cheeses also made in the former dairy store. “We part of the milk make all of our own ice cream right here on the — is drained. farm,” noted Young. The ice cream is made from a 15 Each 100 percent butterfat mix (pasteurized milk, cream and pounds of Jersugar mixture) which is very rich in taste and offers sey milk yields a “smooth, creamy texture and blends well with about 13 or 14 many flavors.” pounds of Staff make the ice cream with machines called cheese and 86 batch freezers, which makes five to 10 gallons of ice to 87 pounds of cream per batch. Each batch reportedly takes 12 to whey, which is 15 minutes to make. Different flavorings, fruits or saved and candies are added at different stages of the process used as fertildepending on how they want ingredients mixed. izer on the “The ice cream comes out of the machine at about field to help 23 to 25 degrees and is immediately put into a specrops grow. cially built walk-in freezer that has a high wind veLoose curds locity and an average temperature of 30 degrees are then below zero. Freezing ice cream quickly is one secret placed in of making excellent ice cream, notes Young. “If you “hoops,” allow the ice cream to freeze slowly, large ice crystals which are eiwill form and a rough texture will result. After it is ther square PDC Photo/SHAR ON SEMANIE hardened the ice cream is ready to move into store or round freezers that hold the ice cream at about 10 degrees forms. When below zero.” filled they are placed in a cheese press overnight to Various cheeses also are produced in a large vat eliminate the last of the whey and begin the process

AERIAL VIEW of Young's Dairy in Clark County.

of curds forming cheese blocks or wheels. Cheeses are then vacuum packed and placed in an aging cooler for a few weeks or years depending upon the type of cheese. “Each time we make cheese we start with 1,100 to 1, 500 pounds of Jersey milk and get 130 to 300 pounds of cheese. It takes six to eight hours to make a batch of cheese. We make cheese four days a week on average or about 32,000 pounds of cheese each year,” said Dan Young, who points out that Young’s baby Swiss and apple wood smoked cheddar varieties were gold medal winners in the North American Jersey Cheese Awards presented in 2011 in Wisconsin’s own “dairy state.” Visitors quickly discover that Young’s Dairy is more than peach ice cream and dill cheddar cheese curds. Families enjoy feeding goats and petting the farm animals, honing their skills at the batting cages or driving range or playing one of the two miniature golf courses on site. Barnaby’s Walnut Grove is a serene spot for a company picnic, family reunion or other get-together and, according to Dan Young, can accommodate groups of more than 5,000. There are two restaurants including the Golden Jersey Inn for great “comfort food” and the Dairy Store for fast food orders and a scoop of the “flavor of the week.” Dan Young and his “family” constantly strive to plan events which bring customers to their rural environs. Whether it’s a wool gathering show, pick your own pumpkins, haunted wagon rides, support the troops weekend, or choosing and cutting your own Christmas trees, there’s no end to their savvy marketing skills. Young likes to think his forefathers would be “proud” of the family’s accomplishments over the decades and especially the capacity to bring visitors from around the world to their dairy farm. “There was a time when only five people would visit the first dairy store,” he recalled. “Yesterday we had 9,000. It’s just a different busiROBBIN MALONE ness.” serves up some When homemade soft asked if this serve ice cream at year’s Young's Dairy in draught has Yellow Springs. severely impacted the business, the chief ice cream dipper simply smiled and responded “It was great for selling ice cream.” To learn more about Young’s Jersey Dairy visit their website at youngsdairy.com. Sharon Semaine writes for the Piqua Daily Call


Acres of West Central Ohio •November 2012 • Page 5

Raising

big business

BY BETHANY J. ROYER broyer@dailycall.com

in such functions as the Piqua Heritage Festival and Troy Strawberry Festival, with educaPIQUA — Make no bahs about it, raising sheep is tional information popularly big business. served through the Miami Facts provided by the American Sheep Industry County Fair. Association states there are more than 5.35 million It is the latter where the Ashead of sheep being raised on 81,000 farms and sociation also promotes their ranches across the United States. Lamb and Wool Queen, with While many would assume sheep serve the dualMeagan McKinney, daughter of purpose of both meat and wool, with production also Ryan McKinney and Angela for milk and cheese. Their use and usefulness does Dilts, crowned at this year’s not stop there, as sheep are being heralded for creat- Miami County Fair. ing healthier landscapes via their ability to digest Shows, where participants toxic vegetation, thus offering a natural method of will purchase a lamb through a eradicating nuisance weeds. Their grazing habits Miami County Sheep Improveseen as a potential resolution to public/commercial ment Association member spaces that benefit both wildlife and the wallet. breeder or county-located Also, their manure is used for fertilizer, while breeder, serve many purposes bones, horns and hooves are used for a plethora of beyond education. They also products including syringes, buttons, adhesives, even offer the opportunity of five shampoo. cash payouts, a traveling troPDC Photo/MIKE ULL ERY The fats and fatty acids for cosmetics, dish soap, phy and a director’s chair. and tires. Promoting nine to 10 differHide and wool for paint, upholstery, and insulaent breeds in the county, Wright explained the Assotion. ciation’s numerous affiliations that includes the state While all states raise sheep most are west of the Association and ties through local members in their Mississippi river. Yet, Ohio ranks 13th in sheep tobreed-specific related organizations. tals, with the local Miami County Sheep ImproveThey also have close contact with the county extenment Association working to educate, promote and sion office, and parpticipate in local projects, their encourage involvement in the industry. One that has most current is a fresh coat of paint at the south seen an influx, both in popularity and in the market, sheep barn at the fairgrounds, with members helping throughout the years and according to the economy. to re-set the pens. Participation in the Association has equally fluncThe group is also working to revive a lamb camp to tuated over the years according to sheep popularity help kids learn more about showing. as goats are currently on the trend. “It’s nice for them to learn about the different Jill Wright, secretary/treasurer of the Miami rules,” said Wright, with former camps held at the County Sheep Improvement Association for the last 8 fairgrounds, and the hope to hold future camps at felyears, graciously spoke on behalf of the group and low Association members’ homes for a more hands-on their endeavors, beginning with the constitution by- experience. laws of promotion and education. These are shared According to the Ohio State Extension office, through local shows and formerly with participation Miami County producers raised 2,322 sheep and

EMILY JOHNSON poses with her reserve grand champion market lamb during the 2012 Sale of Champions at the Miami County Fair. The family has raised sheep on their Peterson Road farm for a number of years.

lambs during the year 2002. Which means for those interested in the wide-expanse of sheep raising that offers everything from an ecological perspective, to wool and meat, the Miami County Sheep Improvement Association is a great place to start. Their meetings are held at 7 p.m., the third Thursday of every other month, at the fairgrounds with the next meeting slated for November. “We’d love to have new members,” said Wright who states the group sees a large diversity of members, from all walks of life, ages and covering both marketing and breeding. The Miami County Sheep Improvement Association is open to residents of Miami County. Bethany Royer writes for the Piqua Daily Call

Still time to plant spring-flowering bulbs If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to plant bulbs. Good online sources include www.easytogrowspring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, crocuses, daffodils, bulbs.com, www.tulipworld.com, www.colorblends.com, and alliums. It’s also the time to dig and store tender www.johnscheepers.com, www.vanengelen.com, and bulbs, rhizomes, and tubers such as caladiums, colocasia www.brentandbeckysbulbs.com. (elephant ear), canna, and dahlias. Frost, even heavy frost, Don’t stop with tulips. There are so many other spring won’t kill the majority of them, but freezing soil temper- blooming flowers waiting to be the stars of your show. Dafatures will turn them to mush. fodils with apricot, yellow, or pink centers are reliable and There is a lot of information on the internet about stor- have an extra bonus: squirrels, chipmunks, and other ing tender bulbs, and as long as you have a cool, dry space pests avoid them. Alliums are members of the onion famin which to store them, the basic processes are very simi- ily, so pests avoid them, too. Crocuses are among the earlar. liest of all the spring flowers, and will 1. Wait until the stems or stalks often pop up when snow is still on the are yellow and dried or have been ground. Google these alternatives to see hit by frost and cut them off about what they look like: Glory-of-the-Snow, 3-4 inches from the soil. Grape Hyacinth, Hyacinth, Starflower, in the dirt 2. Dig up the bulbs/tubers taking English Bluebells,Windflowers, Camassia care not to slice into the fleshy (Quamash), Anemone Blanda, Fritillaria areas. Use a garden fork or small (pests hate it), Scilla…the list goes on. All pitchfork if the bulbs are in the of these bulbs require cool to cold temperground rather than in a container. atures in late fall and winter in order to 3. Shake off excess dirt or rinse bloom in the spring. off the dirt with a hose. It is not nec- annheeley@gmail.com Any of the spring-blooming plants can essary for the bulbs to be comproduce spectacular results as long as the pletely free of dirt. bulbs are planted before the soil freezes. In 4. Cut off any long, gangly roots and place them on our area, mid- to late-November usually marks the frozennewspaper or in a cardboard box. Allow them to dry away soil deadline. Last November, and December for that matfrom the sun for a few days or up to a week if the bulbs ter, extended the planting season. Although there are were rinsed in water. some exceptions, here are some basic considerations. 5. Dust or spray them with an insecticide-fungicide to 1. Choose bulbs that are large, firm, and plump with no prevent problems during storage. mold or mildew. In general, the larger the bulb, the health6. It’s always a good idea to label the bulbs. Many look ier and larger the flower or blooms. alike, and you may not remember what you saved when 2. Plan to plant in drifts or clumps rather than rows to spring arrives! avoid the soldiers-at-attention look. 7. Paper bags, cardboard boxes, and mesh bags (like 3. Dig a hole or a trench about 3 times as deep as the dithose used for onions, potatoes, etc.) can be used to store ameter of the bulb in soil that will drain well during the the bulbs over the winter. Slightly moistened sphagnum winter and spring. I use a cordless drill with an auger for moss, peat moss, sawdust or vermiculite will help cush- nearly effortless planting and speed. (Note:This technique ion the bulbs and prevent them from totally drying out. does NOT work well in rocky or muddy soils or in the mid8. Store bulbs in a cool, dry spot that won’t freeze or be- dle of tree roots.) come too warm—aim for 45-55°. Check the bulbs every 4. Drop some balanced or high-phosphate fertilizer month or so to make sure there is a little moisture in the (high middle number, such as 5-7-4 or 6-12-6) in the hole storage medium. If the bulbs appear to be dried or shriv- and sprinkle with peat moss or soil. Don’t let the bulb eled, mist with a little water. come in direct contact with the fertilizer. You can also 9. For more detailed information on specific types of sprinkle fertilizer on the surface of the soil after the bulb plants, please read “Storing Bulbs and Bulblike Struc- has been planted and rough up the soil to mix it in. Bone tures” from the University of Minnesota. (http://www.ex- meal is a great fertilizer, but it attracts dogs, cats, and rotension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/dg1117.html) To overcome the winter blahs, nothing beats the sight of spring-blooming flowers. Fall garden catalogs and garden centers are filled with a myriad of choices, so it’s just a matter of deciding on color combinations, bloom time, and spacing. Tulips, for example, can be classified according to when they bloom: early spring, mid-spring, or late spring. They can also be classified by color, shape, height, single or double, and number of blooms per bulb. Browse through catalogs or go online to get ideas for all sorts of

Plays

Ann Heeley

dents. 5. Place the bulb in the hole, pointy end up/fuzzy roots down, fill in the hole with soil, and water well. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for Mother Nature to work her magic in the Spring. Do you have questions or other tips that you’d like to share? Please email me. For upcoming issues, I’d also like to include your ideas or suggestions for indoor gardening, houseplant, or holiday decorating topics. I look forward to hearing from you. Ann Heeley, of Sidney, is a retiree who is a certified Master Gardener and is active in both the Rainbow Gardeners of Shelby County and the Ohio Association of Garden Clubs.

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Acres of West Central Ohio â&#x20AC;˘November 2012 â&#x20AC;˘ Page 6

o Corn and REPRESENTATIVES OF the Ohi tirelessly for k Wheat Growers Association wor munity. com ing the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s farmers and farm after field a ts ves har er Above, a local farm corn for lds Yie t. ugh dro â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mer this past sum e for stat the and soybeans were low across . son sea g the 2012 growin

PDC Photo/MIKE ULLERY

Corn, wheat district directors exude passion and leadership BY WILL E SANDERS wsanders@dailycall.com

KEMP

BERG he helped decide some key roles in the organization, including a new objective director. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was one of the biggest decisions I made in my life to either move someone new up or hire someone new, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always a difficult decision,â&#x20AC;? Berg said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;That decision has turned out to be a really good one and we advanced a person we had on staff and he really stepped up. I am really impressed and I am very happy.â&#x20AC;? While the association works locally, a lot of what they do not only involves national-level politics, but also statewide agriculture issues. One thing Berg said he is especially proud of is his work with helping create a statewide farm bill, which was a challenge because many state legislators are far removed from issues most farmers have to deal with professionally and personally. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Some (politicians) are too far removed from agriculture and they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what is happening on the farm today,â&#x20AC;? Berg said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;One of the largest problems is regulation. â&#x20AC;Ś We try to keep that under control.â&#x20AC;? He said he goes to Washington, D.C. about twice a year to lobby and fight for corn and wheat growers, which is something he said he enjoys doing. One such issue he used as an example was genetically-modified crops. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We defended that big time,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There is

nothing wrong with genetic crops. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just another quicker way of doing something.â&#x20AC;? This yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s farming season wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t as good as Berg had hoped as dry weather welcomed the crops and then a barrage of rainfall in August have resulted in expected yields being below average this year. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tough, I have insurance and that made me sleep better,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But you still lose. We all would have been better off with the crops. â&#x20AC;Ś I love to see crops. It doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get any better than that.â&#x20AC;? Berg has been a farmer for his entire life. He and his brother farm 1,300 acres of corn, wheat, soybeans throughout his district. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unbelievable what we do today,â&#x20AC;? Berg said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Some city people donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know what we do, but we care for the land. We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to eat bad food.â&#x20AC;? For more information on the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association, visit their website at: ohiocornandwheat.org. Will E Sanders writes for the Piqua Daily Call

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There is more to the Ohio Corn and Wheat Growers Association than meets the â&#x20AC;Ś ear. Nowhere is that best illustrated than in the passion, leadership and lobbying efforts of two of the organizationsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; district directors, Chad Kemp and Bill Berg. As the associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director for District 6, which includes Darke County, Kemp said one the the most important duties he has is lobbying on behalf of farmers, a function that has taken him from the statehouse in Columbus to the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s capital in Washington D.C. where he has helped fight for rules and regulations that affect corn and wheat growers in his district and state. Among some of the higher profile issues he has lobbied for was the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s farm bills. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We help shape our new farm bills with legislators and educate them on what farmers need on the farm,â&#x20AC;? said Kemp, who said it can be challenging speaking with legislators regarding agricultural topics because many arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t knowledgeable about what farmers want and need. Kemp, a former Franklin-Monroe fifth-grade teacher, said that task grows more difficult every year and that as new generations of farmers come about things such as farming methods and issues arise and change. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Much of it is relationship-building,â&#x20AC;? Kemp said of his role with the association. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We go into politiciansâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; offices and we are a resource for them. Some of the people we deal with have never stepped on a farm, but they run agriculture, so we are there as a resource.â&#x20AC;? Kemp said there are challenges and that they come mostly from misinformation, saying â&#x20AC;&#x153;we have a safe and abundant food supply.â&#x20AC;? When it comes to challenging issues that arose during the 2012 harvest season Kemp did not hesitate to say the lack of rain that was not only felt throughout southwestern Ohio, but statewide. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I farm down the I-70 corridor and we were blessed compared to some parts of the state,â&#x20AC;? said Kemp, a fifth-generation farmer who grows and harvests corn, wheat and soybeans. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We just didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get any rain. It is just so disheartening.â&#x20AC;? Like Kemp, Berg, the associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director of District 3, performs many of the responsibilities as his counterparts but said one of the biggest decisions he made regarding the association came last year when

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Acres of West Central Ohio â&#x20AC;˘November 2012 â&#x20AC;˘ Page 7

Amish recipe for farming: principles and different tools BY LEE JONES BELLE CENTERâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; There is more common ground between the organic farmer and an Amish agriculturalist than meets the eye. Of course the Amish are well-known for abstaining from the electrical grid, automobiles and zippers, but the communityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s passion for simple living leads them to produce healthy food and healthy ground to grow it from. Marvin Coblentz, an Amish businessman who owns the Pioneer General Store in Belle Center, in Logan County, knows farming well and, aside from some differences in tool choices, it is not much different from how a conventional organic farmer would do it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We stay away from treated seeds,â&#x20AC;? Coblentz said of genetically modified crops. He also takes issue with the chemically driven, no-till method of farming. The Amish farmer, according to Coblentz, is working the ground constantly and utilizing the early spring freezes to open the ground as well. Corn gets planted in early June and no herbicides or fertilizers, other than some chicken manure, touch Amish crops. Instead, rotation and building up healthy soil is the name of the game. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Radishes and turnips are good cover crops,â&#x20AC;? Coblentz said. Planting cover crops not only produces tasty fruit but sends nutrients into the soil other crops need. Coblentz referenced his fatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s field of organic corn that produced over and above the yields of conventional fields due to nitrogen-loaded soil. Coblentz, and the the Amish community as a whole, embraces the use of tools and processes many farmers consider archaic, like horse-drawn plows. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s something weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve adapted to,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It fits our lifestyle, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s simple.â&#x20AC;? He said the horse-drawn plow is better for the field than the heavy, conventional plows. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Horses have an advantage because a tractor has more compaction than horses do,â&#x20AC;? Coblentz said. They can also enter the field earlier in the season than a tractor because the hoof can handle damp ground better than the tire. There is history and tradition that unites the Amish farmer with horse-drawn tools, and there does not appear to be any chance of that bond breaking. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We see that a lot of things are electronicallyminded and at some point weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll see people come back to simple, easy to use things,â&#x20AC;? Coblentz said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We think that if we are solely dependent on that, at some point that can be a problem.â&#x20AC;? Even though Amish principles separate them in some ways from their Amish neighbors, Coblentz was quick to point out that the two communities within Belle Center a maintain healthy relationship. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We appreciate the English people around us,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We enjoy doing things together and working together.â&#x20AC;? Coblentz said Amish will buy hay from their conventional neighbors, and Coblentzâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own store serves Amish and English alike.

AN AMISH man and girl plow a field in October near Troy. Late autumn plowing allows for earlier planting in the spring and may help reduce problems of insects, disease and weeds.

AP photo

CORN SHOCKS make a nostalgic setting in an Amish field in Logan County. UDC PHOTO/Lee Jones

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Lee Jones is a reporter with the Urbana Daily Citizen.

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Acres of West Central Ohio â&#x20AC;˘November 2012 â&#x20AC;˘ Page 8

Ohio Outdoors

FFA active in election season

You bet your â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Buckeyeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; you can grow state symbol in your own backyard! BY LAURA JONES For all of you who â&#x20AC;&#x153;bleedâ&#x20AC;? scarlet and gray this time of year, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a way to show your team spirit for years to come, while beautifying your landscape and helping the environment. You can grow your very own Ohio buckeye tree from the â&#x20AC;&#x153;eye of the buckâ&#x20AC;? itself! Right now, the branches of most buckeye trees are laden with seeds or nuts encased inside a greenish-gold, leathery husk. From early September to late October the husks drop to the ground and split open, revealing their hidden treasures. The nuts come out of the husks a deep, glossy chestnutbrown with a tan, circular patch. Native Americans who once inhabited the Ohio Valley region called the nut â&#x20AC;&#x153;hetuckâ&#x20AC;? or â&#x20AC;&#x153;eye of the buckâ&#x20AC;? because it resembled a deerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye. Collecting buckeye nuts for planting is as easy as the planting itself. Ohio buckeye trees can be found growing in forests, parks and neighborhoods across the state. These native trees grow naturally in moist soil, often along river bottoms. State parks and state forests are great places for gathering; just be sure to collect only those nuts that have fallen to the ground. Only recently fallen nuts are viable for planting. This means the lucky buckeye that youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been carrying around since the Ohio State Buckeyes won the 1968, or 2002 National Championship, is not a candidate for germination! Because it can be difficult knowing how recently a buckeye seed has fallen to the ground, experts with the Ohio Division of Forestry, suggest soaking your recently collected buckeyes in water for two to four hours before planting. Seeds should be planted in loose, well-worked soil about 6 inches apart, and at a depth twice the diameter of the seed. It wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t hurt to plant more buckeyes than you want, since only half are likely to germinate. To help hold the soil in place, put 2 to 3 inches of mulch, straw or well-rotted sawdust over the planting. Check the soil once a week, adding just enough water to keep it moist. TIP! If there are squirrels in the neighborhood, theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll likely dig up the seeds. To discourage their scavenging, place a screen mesh over the planted seeds before covering them with mulch. Remove the screen and mulch in early spring after the ground thaws. Once the seeds have germinated in the spring, begin applying enough water to maintain about one-inch per week. During the first season, lightly fertilize in April and again in June. By August, buckeye trees big and small will be exhibiting leaf scorch, a nonfatal fungus resulting in early leaf

Photo provided

Future Farmers of America from throughout west central Ohio converged on the Shelby County Fairgrounds recently during a rally by presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The enthusiastic youths were actively participating in the American democratic process of selecting a leader for the country.

Pigs looked healthy but tested positive for flu drop. But donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t worry, even without its leaves, your little buckeye tree will be just fine. Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll know itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in good shape if you see a plump bud at the end of the stem â&#x20AC;&#x201C; reflecting the start to next yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s growth â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and if the bark does not appear to be wrinkled. Keep in mind that as â&#x20AC;&#x153;young bucks,â&#x20AC;? these trees prefer partially shaded conditions. You can transplant your seedling to a sunnier location the first spring after germination. Be sure to do so before it leafs out, and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t wait more than two years to transplant. Trees in more open settings will have to endure the tribulations of leaf scorch, but as the tree matures the reward is more profuse blooming and that ever-so-important nut production. Depending on growing conditions, Ohio buckeye trees will begin producing nuts in five to 10 years. The average height for Buckeye trees is 40 feet; they have fairly narrow crowns and short trunks that are 2 to 3 feet in diameter. Bark on older trees is dark, furrowed, and scaly. The white, fine-grained wood is moderately soft, easy to carve, and resistant to splitting. Buckeyes are some of the first trees to leaf out in the spring, producing the widely recognized fan of five, nearly elliptical leaflets. Cone-shaped clusters of small, pale yellow flowers bloom at the end of branches in late April and early May. In the fall, these popular trees are equally well known for being among the first to turn yellow and drop their leaves. If youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in a hurry to harvest nuts from your very own Ohio buckeye tree, you might want to consider skipping the seed-planting process and going straight to a local garden center. Many tree nurseries across the state have Ohio buckeye trees in stock. Go Bucks! Laura Jones writes for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

COLUMBUS, Ohio - More than 80 percent of pigs that tested positive for influenza A virus at Ohio county fairs between 2009 and 2011 showed no signs of illness, according to a new study. Ohio State University researchers tested 20 pigs each at 53 fair events over those three summers and found at least one flu-positive pig at 12 fairs - almost a quarter of fairs tested. The influenza strains identified in pigs in this study include H1N2 and H3N2 viruses - strains that have been circulating in pigs since 1998. In 2011, all of the H3N2 and H1N2 isolates found in pigs at the fairs contained a gene from the 2009 pandemic strain of H1N1, which is similar to the H3N2v strain causing human illness this year. Though this finding alone is no cause for panic, it does show how quickly influenza viruses can change, said Andrew Bowman, lead author of the study and a Ph.D. candidate in veterinary preventive medicine at Ohio State. In a second study led by Bowman, researchers compared the genomic sequences of influenza A viruses recovered in July 2012 from pigs and people. The analysis, showing a greater than 99 percent genetic similarity among the viruses, confirms that pigs and humans were infected with the same virus, indicating interspecies transmission. As of Sept. 25 this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had confirmed 107 human cases of H3N2v influenza in Ohio since July 2012, with the majority linked to exposure to pigs at agricultural fairs. While most of the human illness caused by H3N2v has been mild, one person, who had a compromised immune system, has died. The more often that flu viruses are transmitted, the better their chances are of evolving into a strain to which humans are not immune, which is the big-picture concern among scientists monitoring these viral infections. Bowman and colleagues will continue to investigate strategies to protect swine and public health. In the meantime, the research group has offered potential risk mitigation strategies for fairs with swine competitions to consider: shortening the pig exhibition period, avoiding movement of pigs from one fair to the next, and vaccinating exhibition swine for appropriate influenza A viruses. In addition, the CDC recommends that people with compromised immune systems avoid pig displays at fairs.

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Acres of West Central Ohio •November 2012 • Page 9

Shelby County fish farm services ponds throughout west central Ohio Today, there are over 200. One of those is located in Shelby County, the Shelby Fish Farm on Wells Road between Anna and ANNA – When one thinks of farming, the first Wapakoneta. thing to come to mind, other than corn and soybeans, Steve and Terri Heitman, of Wapakoneta, have six is livestock - like hogs, cattle or poultry. ponds on their land, and raise fish like bluegill, largeBut these days, you can add another word to that mouth bass, yellow perch, and catfish. And they sell list — fish. several other species. That’s right, fish. “I don’t raise all my own fish,” said Steve Heitman. Fish farms have “Some I fly in from Arkansas.” been steadily increasing over the years, thanks in large part to people wanting to eat healthier foods, and thereby eating more fish than they used to. According to the U.S. Economic Research Service, Americans on average are eating four pounds more fish per year TERRI (left) and than they did in Heitman, of Steve 1970, and Wapakoneta, pull global fish conup a basket of sumption has Largemouth bass risen to a they are raising on record of altheir Anna fish farm. most 17 kilograms per SDN Photo/LUKE GRON NEBERG person. Back in 1998, there were a total of 33 fish farms in Ohio. Heitman and his wife “just took a general interest” in fish farms and began reading up on them on the Internet. They also visited the Ohio State aquaculture program in Piketon. “We saw other people doing it,” Heitman said. “This business has pretty much been dominated by Arkansas. There are guys down Large mouth bass flop there that have several thousand acres of around in a basket that water, where I might have a couple acres.” helps keep them more Despite the increase in fish farms, Heitman accessible when said there aren’t many around here. “There’s needed. an operation in Kalida, one in Urbana and one in Cincinnati, but that’s about as close as it get,” he said. So he is selling fish to places SDN Photo/LUKE GRONNEBERG all over Ohio. People like the Heitmans have made Ohio the No. 1 producer of yellow perch and bluegill in the entire nation, and the fourth largest producer of BY KEN BARHORST kbarhorst@sdnccg.com\

Salute to youth Goettemoeller wins Ford scholarship

BOTKINS — Maria Goettemoeller, a 2012 graduate of Botkins High School and member of the Botkins FFA Chapter, has been awarded a $1,000 Ford Trucks/Built Ford Tough Scholarship. Buckeye Ford Lincoln of Sidney, as a special project of the National FFA Foundation, sponsors the scholarship. Goettemoeller plans to use the funds to pursue a degree at Montana State University - Bozeman. The scholarship is one of 1,539 awarded through the National FFA Scholarship Program this year. The daughter of Joseph and Joanna Goettemoeller of GOETTE MOELLER Botkins, Goettemoeller earned several scholarships upon graduating form high school last June. She placed third in FFA Agricultural Communications competitions, second in Job Interview, second in Public Speaking at the sub-district level, fourth in Public Speaking at the district level, earned a chapter, greenhand and state degrees, won Blue and Gold, Scholarship and Star Greenhand awards. She was FFA queen. She was on the honor roll, president of the National Honor Society and winner of its Carol Becker Award, a member of Ohio Ambassadors of Music, a scholar athlete, a member of the state FFA choir, Miss Congeniality of the Shelby County Junior Fair, and earned varsity letters in athletics and music. As a member of FFA, she participated in the following activities: agricultural communications, dairy judging team, equine judging team, job interview competition, leadership conference, officer training conference, parliamentary procedure competition, proficiency application, public speaking contest, soil judging, state convention and national convention. She served as FFA historian and secretary.

STEVE HEITMAN, of Wapakoneta, feeds the koi and goldfish he is raising on his Anna fish farm.

largemouth bass. When the Heitmans decided they were going into the business, they had to, of course, dig the ponds. “It’s gotten a lot more expensive,” he said. “But back when we did it, it wasn’t that expensive, about $5,000 per acre. Now it’s about $12,000.” The ponds are all 6-to-8 feet deep from one end to the other, and Heitman said the most popular of the fish he raises in those ponds would be a tossup between the bluegill and the yellow perch. In the spring, the farm sells to individuals for pond stocking. In the fall, the biggest clients are clubs and recreational facilities, where there are memberships. “They will call and say they want 500 pounds of perch or 500 pounds of bluegill,” Heitman said. “And this time of year, different organizations will hold kids fishing derbies, and we’ll stock their ponds for that, too. It’s just a fun day for the kids, and they can show the kids a good time for about $600.” The catfish he raises are good size and normally go to clubs and fishing tournaments, he said. When it’s time to harvest the fish, Heitman uses a 150-foot net that is 12 feet deep. “If they need a couple hundred pods, you don’t do the whole pond,” he said. “You just scoop them out and sometimes run them through a grader so the little ones drop out.” The Heitmans also sell hybrid striped bass, walleye, hybrid bluegill, crappie, tilapia, coppernose and grass carp. The hybrid bluegill are good for ponds where bluegill have “taken over.” And they also offer other items, such as water treatment chemicals for pond blueing, muck removal, fountains and lighting, aeration windmills, and more. “Fish food, pond dye, all different types of water treatment… you have to get into a little bit of everything,” Heitman said. And that includes the so-called “ornamental fish,” like koi, goldfish and other species. “I don’t spawn them myself. There are guys that do that as a business,” said Heitman. “For somebody wanting to get into the fish business, that’s real lucrative. Even buying them and raising them up. Koi, the more colorful it is, the more it’s worth. I buy them and raise them, and people come in and pick the ones they want.” It’s easy to see why the ornamental fish are a part of the operation. Heitman said a 12-inch largemouth bass sells for $5. The same size koi would sell for $20. “And it took the same amount of feed and the same amount of work.” The spring drought the area had to deal with this year was felt by the Heitmans in their operation. “This is the first year since I started that I had to add water,” he said. “Normally, I’m taking water out. Ponds went down about 18 inches.” The fish stay in the ponds during the winter, and go into a sort of hibernation state. So they don’t need to be fed, giving the Heitmans a chance to recharge for the busy spring season. “We really enjoy it,” Steve said. “It’s so much different than any other livestock you raise. My wife was a town girl and I didn’t think she would adapt to it. But she just jumps right in.” Ken Barhorst is sports editor for the Sidney Daily News.

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Acres of West Central Ohio â&#x20AC;˘November 2012 â&#x20AC;˘ Page 10

Country Cookinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Apple Pizza

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a great time for Pumpkin Bread It's that time of year for all things pumpkin, and for Loretta Geuy that means pumpkin bread. Geuy lives on a small farm near Rosewood in Champaign County with her husband, Garner. The couple have been married for 50 years and have two children. Her husband enjoys working the garden and harvesting the produce, while Loretta prides herself on canning and freezing it for winter. She noted that they also have fruit trees and berries. She freezes the berries for winter pies. She also enjoys being outdoors and working in her flower beds, especially when spring arrives with new life and the promise of warmer weather. Geuy likes to bake pies, cookies, bread and rolls, especially during winter months. She makes the pumpkin bread in the fall and around the holidays. She has had the recipe for a long time and finds it turns out well each time she make it.

3 1/2 cups flour 2 teaspoons baking soda 1 1/4 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon cloves 1/2 teaspoon allspice 4 eggs, beaten 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin (16 ounce can) 1 cup salad oil (Canola) 2/3 cup water 3 cups sugar 1 cup chopped nuts (optional) Combine sugar, oil, eggs. Add the pumpkin, water and mix well. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice and add this to the pumpkin mixture. Stir well. Grease two loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until the center is done. Try not to over bake. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and then remove. This also freezes well. You can add or decrease the spices to suit your taste.

Auglaize woman shares unique apple pie recipe

Apple Raisin Cream Pie

ter of top crust. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 - 50 minutes. Remove pie from oven; slowly pour cream into center hole of top crust. Return to oven; bake 5 - 10 minutes longer. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting. (Refrigerate leftovers.)

Pastry for 2-crust, 10 inch pie Filling: 7 to 8 cups tart apple slices, 1/8 inch thick 1 cup sugar 1/2 cup flour 1/2 tsp nutmeg 1 tsp cinnamon 3/4 cup raisins Dash salt, if desired to 2 tsp grated lemon rind 1 tbls (rounded) butter 3/4 cup heavy cream Make favorite pastry; line bottom of pie tin with one crust and set aside. Combine apple slices, Marcia Knife of sugar, flour, spices, Casstown, in raisins, salt and Miami County, lemon enjoys cooking peel; mix for her family together and one of their well. favorites at this Spoon time of year is filling Apple Pizza. It into pasis a popular try-lined treat when pan; dot company comes with butter. Cover calling. She has with top had the recipe crust decfor years but orated doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t recall BRENDA ZABOROWIC with where she got steam it. She makes vents; it mainly in the fall when seal edges. Cut a 1 inch circle from dough in cen- apples are readily avail-

Apple Pizza offers new twist on family favorite

able. Knife and husband Rick recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. They have two married daughters and four grandchildren. When not cooking, Knife enjoys reading and Eileen Warne of West collectLiberty, in Logan ing anCounty, started baking at an early tiques. age and now sells The cookies and cinnaKnifes mon rolls to sevalso coleral outlets. She and her lect anhusband Larry tique have been marfire ried for 42 years equipand have two ment grown children and six grandchiland own dren. 13 fullMrs. Warne size fire grew up on a trucks. farm and learned MARCIA KNIFE to cook and bake They as a child. also When she was in high have an extensive collec- school her family opened tion of firefighting memo- a produce stand in their rabilia. In keeping with front yard and she their interest, they have started baking cinnamon rolls to sell there. When a brass fire pole in their her children were in midhome that came from dle school she worked as Baltimore, Md., which allows them to slide from their bedroom to the family room below. Knife is active in church, playing the piano for worship, and in the local Grange. In the winter time when things slow down a bit, she enjoys working jigsaw puzzles. Knifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s specialty pizza recipe follows.

Sugar Cookies 2 sticks oleo 1 1/2 cups brown sugar 1/2 cup white sugar Cream together and add two eggs Then add: 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 cup milk 1 teaspoon vanilla 5 cups flour Roll on floured counter and cut whatever shapes you wish. Bake at 350 degrees until light brown; approximately 9-11 minutes. These can be baked and frozen. Ice them when they are removed from the freezer. Recipes compiled by Lola E. Billiel

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Pumpkin Bread

LORETTA GEUY of Rosewood displays her pumpkin bread.

a school cook, then later as a baker at a new area 2 pie dough sticks restaurant. She eventu3 large or 7 small apally decided to start her own business, "Eileen's ples Cookies." She already 1 cup sugar had the proper licenses 1 stick butter and first a local craft 1 cup flour barn began selling her 2 tsp. cinnamon cookies, and then her cin1/2 cup powdered namon rolls. sugar She now sells cookies Dab of in two milk restauMake pie rants crust accordand at her ing to packfamily's age (or use produce your own barn, as recipe). well as at Spread on the Logan greased County pizza pan or Farmer's cookie sheet. Market in Peel and Belleslice fontaine. apples and She bakes spread on and sells crust. Mix ELAINE WARNE an aver1/2 cup age of sugar and 160 dozen cookies a week the cinnamon. and has her oldest grandSprinkle on the top of son help out during the apples. Mix butter, the summer. flour, and 1/2 cup Warne's husband sugar. Crumble over grows potatoes, so every pizza. Bake at 400 deSaturday morning during grees for 30 minutes. market season they take (May take a little longer.) potatoes, breads, pies, Cool a few minutes. cakes, cookies and nut Mix powdered sugar and breads to the farmer's dab of milk. Drizzle over market. In the fall she pizza and enjoy! also takes apple dumplings. When the market is over for the season, she sells holiday cookies and pies. With the aid of her son's family, she and her husband also make, cut and wrap 500 pounds of caramels. She sells about 6,000 dozen cookies a year. Eileen shares the following sugar cookie recipe, which is one of her favorites.


Acres of West Central Ohio •November 2012 • Page 11

Bradford among leaders in growing meat rabbit business BY SHARON SEMANIE editorial@dailycall.com BRADFORD — German immigrants years ago introduced hasenpfeffer-a DAN WICKS, owner of Wick's Rabbit traditional stew-to American palates. Ranch in Bradford, holds one of the The hearty dish is made from mariNew Zealand rabbits he and his nated rabbit, braised with onions and wife Ellen raise. The couple have wine, and enhanced with aromic spices. been inducted into the American Rabbit fare has come a long way as evFederation of New Zealand Rabbit idenced by the bratwursts, jerkey, Breeders Hall of Fame. sausages and snack sticks now available commercially in area supermarkets. Seventy-six-year-old Don Wick, owner of Wick’s Rabbit Ranch in Bradford, claims the processed rabbit meats consumed by humans aids cholesterol levels and is actually lower in calories than chicken, turkey, beef and pork. As the world population continues to grow, futurists predict “there will be less land to raise food….and the rabbit will play a more increasing role in this (food) supply.” Wick, along with his wife, Ellen, have been inducted into the American Federation of New Zealand Rabbit Breeders Hall of Fame. Together they raise the New Zealand black and white does and bucks in a nondescript building behind their home along Route 721 between Covington PDC Photo/S HARON SEMANIE ezer full and Greenville. The congenial rabDAN WICK displays a fre bbit Ra s bit breeder grew up less than two ck' of rabbit meat at Wi Getmiles from his ranch on an 80-acre d. for ad Br Ranch in farm where his parents and two broth- tysburg, Caven’s Meats in Conover and Olde Village Meat in Frazeysburg. ers raised chickens, hogs, dairy cattle, wheat and corn. “We never knew poor,” Prices range from $4.69 for a package of rabbit bratwursts to $6 for the rabbit smiled the Franklin-Monroe High School graduate, who lives in a serene beef jersey. Customer demand for rabrural environment surrounded by fields bit, said Wick, is on the rise of corn and soybeans. especially on the East After graduation he began working Coast. “Once people try it at a Dayton food market as a carryout (rabbit) they really like it. boy but that soon changed. “When they It’s better than turkey or saw that I was making too chicken and has less calories many tips, they put me and cholesterol. You can subback in the meat destitute it for any chicken partment,” where he recipe or simply cook it was taught the meaton the grill outdoors.” cutting trade. He Wick noted his rabbit continues to comproducts are available mute back and forth by contacting him at from Save-A-Lot Sudonwick@embarqpermarket in Dayton PDC Photo/SHARON SEMANIE mail.com or ordering honing his skills in befrom Ohio Proud, a tween the rabbit busimarketing program ness. “There are too sponsored by the Ohio many old people in Florida,” he laughed, when asked about retirement Department of Agriculture in 1993 that identifies and promotes food and agriplans. cultural products that are made in Wick said his fascination with rabbits began as a child when he joined 4- Ohio and grown in Ohio. Wick said the products range from salsas, jams and H and began showing New Zealand jellies to breads and pastas and varieties for 10 years. He reportedly “made out well” with rabbit sales at 25 processed meats including his rabbit products. cents per pound explaining New He suggested that while his rabbit Zealand varieties yield more money for their meat content. Since 1960, the af- farm is multiplying by leaps and bounds, this year’s onslaught of fable farmer has been promoting the weather and drought conditions has breeds and taking part in shows from taken its toll. “I have to keep enough Portland, Ore. and San Francisco to Seventeen 3 water available at all times,” indicated Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., often taking as many as eight or nine rabbits Wick, “and the cost of feed has skyrockpoint snow eted”. He predicts a 20 percent increase in special carriers aboard airliners. blowers on While some shows yield sales of $50 to in the amount of pellets he will pur$5,000 per rabbit, Wicksproudly boasts chase in the future. His weekly bill for hand from 54” that he sold a male buck for $300 in In- one-half ton of feed totals $200, which he shares with other rabbit hobbyists. dianapolis. On an annual basis Wick to 108” wide. In the meantime he will continue his estimates he shows and or sells 5,000 Shop now while rabbits for commercial use. Between 30 commute to Dayton as a meat cutter while tending the rabbits back on the to 40 bucks and does remain on the selection is the Wick’s property at any one time. All are ranch. He and his wife, Ellen, will celebest fed a diet of pellets-comprised of alfalfa brate 55 years of marriage this fall. They have two sons, Tim, who resides and soybeans-along with water. For meat processing purposes, rabbits — at several miles away, and Jim who lives an average weight of five pounds — are north of Boston, Mass. The couple has taken to a Greenville area poultry pro- seven grandchildren. When asked if Ellen shares his encessing plant where they are butchered thusiasm for the furry inhabitants onat eight to 10 weeks of age. They are site, he simply smiled and replied then processed into meat according to “Nope. I stay out of her sewing room,” state inspection standards and transported by dry ice to retail businesses or and she remains away from the rabbits in the adjacent ranch house. sold on a mail-order basis. Among the seven Dayton area food Sharon Semanie writes for the markets which sell Wick’s rabbits are Piqua Daily Call Dorothy Lane Markets, King Poultry in

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Cooking with lard makes come-back from culinary and health perspectives BY LOLA E. BILLIEL Years ago, lard (animal fat) was the main source of fat in food preparation in the United States, but in the 1950’s Americans began to be more health conscious. As a result, they started emphasizing low fat and fat free diets, along with more healthy fats, such as canola oil and margarine. There is a trend now, however, to return to cooking with lard, at least on a limited basis. There are several reasons for this. Lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than equal amounts of butter. And unlike many margarines and vegetable shortenings, unhydrogenated lard contains no trans fat. Plus, cooking, baking and frying with lard produces wonderful mouth-watering results. Many professional chefs and bakers have continually relied on the superior qualities of lard over shortening because of its broader range of applications and taste. Also, many homemakers

County, is another who knows the benefits of lard. The Kriegs also raise their own hogs and she points out that lard is a natural food. She puts it to good use in frying meat and in baking cookies and pies. At one time she cooked for weddings and always fried chicken in lard, giving it a delicious flavor. The Kriegs butcher 1015 hogs each year, making a weekend of it. The whole family comes together and participates in the activity, including packaging the meat, making sausage, and rendering lard. Krieg said when lard gets old, they make soap of it.This is done by melting the lard and adding lye and then letting it set up in crocks. The finished product is used for washing clothes, especially work clothes. Doris Krieg, also of New Bremen, makes rolls, cookies and pies with lard. She notes too that “everything fries up nicer” and that “pie dough works

chicken. He purchases his lard from Winner’s Market in Osgood , using about 70 pounds per week. He feels it is a healthy choice, especially when obtained from a butcher shop with nothing added. Brian Winner of Winner’s Meats said the business renders lard once or twice a week and sells it locally. Winner’s sells pure lard, unlike what is found in many grocery stores that has been hydrogenated, bleached and deodorized, with chemicals added. Winner explained that after they process hogs they take the excess fat and skin, chop it and place in kettle. They cook the lard off, with cracklings as a by-product. The cracklings are scooped out and the lard is pumped into a large cooling kettle. It is stirred quickly inside while water on the outside cools it. It is then poured into containers to be sold. The result is 100 percent pure animal fat (lard). Winner notes that when they do butchering for others, most of the customers do request their SDN Photo/LUKE GRONNEBERG PIE CRUST made with lard is lard. He said typically flaky and delicious. the amount rendered from a hog is less these days because hogs are leaner, and that the demand for lard in west central Ohio has re2 cups white sugar mained static. 1 cup lard Among the 2 eggs market’s cus2 teaspoons baking tomers, lard is soda the number 1 cup water one choice for 1 cup buttermilk frying 1/2 teaspoon salt chicken. It is 1 teaspoon vanilla also popular for use in 1/2 cup cocoa up really nice.” pies, rolls, and donuts. Among professional Among outlets that sell bakers who use lard in Winner’s pure lard is their products is Larry Woody’s Market in SidBrown, owner of Oswalt’s ney. Sweet Shop in Versailles, Those who cook with in Darke County. He said lard stress that it is a his bakery uses lard in its natural product and that pie dough and sweet rolls used in moderation, can because of the better rebe healthful. Cooks and sults. chefs generally agree that This is best illustrated when using pure lard you in the pie crusts, which can expect delicious, flaky are very flaky. The bakpie crusts, crispy fried ery has been in operation chicken, and fluffy nonsince 1939 and has algreasy donuts. ways used lard in its pie Following are two facrusts and other pastry vorite recipes of area items. women who cook with Brown said many area lard. women use lard for frying

Carol Huelskamp’s Best Ever Chocolate Cake

have continued a tradition of cooking with lard, much to the delight of their families. Among those in west central Ohio is Carol Huelskamp of Sidney, in Shelby County, who uses lard in baking and frying. Since the family farm raises hogs, lard has always been readily available. At one time the family did its own butchering and rendered the lard, but now it is handled by Curley’s Market in Jackson Center. Although Huelskamp no longer cooks for a large family, with her children grown with families of their own, she still prefers to use lard when she does cook and bake. This has been passed down to a daughter-in-law and a grandson too, who always request lard when butchering takes place. Ruth Krieg of the New Bremen area, in Auglaize

2 1/2 cups flour Cream together sugar, lard and eggs. Add water, milk and vanilla. Then add cocoa, flour, soda, and salt and mix well. Pour in a 9x13 inch greased and floured pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Frost with favorite frosting.

Ruth Krieg’s Never Fail Pie Crust 3 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt 1 cup lard 1 egg, well beaten and then add 1 tablespoon vinegar and 5 tablespoons water to egg mixture Cut together lard and flour and salt and then add egg mixture—mixing with a fork. Roll out on floured board. Mixture makes two double-crust pies. Lola Billiel writes for the Sidney Daily News

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Memories of Thanksgiving glow like the flame in Grandma’s oil stove It was a Thanksgiving Day many turned except for my grandfather and years ago, and yet memory of it burns his teen-age son, my Uncle Richard. as brightly today as the kerosene fire The table was set and the women were that glowed in Grandma’s cook stove. ready to start bringing out the food. AlAs children we peeked through small though it was unlike Grandpa to be windows on the stove to watch the blue late, the family saw this as a good sign; and yellow flames dance inside, their perhaps they were delayed because one warmth heating the big kitchen and of them had gotten a deer. cooking the Thanksgiving dinner. Time wore on and still Grandpa and Grandma and her four grown daugh- Uncle Richard failed to show up. The ters, including my mother, were busily talk grew quieter. The women stood preparing the fixings for the sumptuaround in their aprons, peering anxous meal to be served when the men iously through the windows. Several came in from deer hunting. They chat- uncles debated whether or not to go ted happily as they worked—peeling look for them. potatoes, squash and turnips, stuffing a Finally a car pulled into the driveturkey the size of an ostrich, chopping way. The men jumped up and rushed Photo provided dates and nuts for quick bread, and onto the porch. There was some low making pumpkin and mincemeat pies. conversation, followed by the slamThe aromas ming of clinic. emanating car doors And although he walked with a limp, from the and the he was expected to fully recover. Reflections sound of kitchen were After leaving the clinic, Grandpa had tantalizing a vehicle returned to the base of the mountain to and a warm driving retrieve his gun and to claim his deer, sense of beaway. but all he found was a gut pile. It aplonging perThe men peared that not only had someone vaded the then stolen his deer, but also his coat and house. came shotgun. This was back into Upon learning of this my uncles befamily, and the came angry and even as young house, children we silently, vowed to pursue knew this was and went the thieves, but a special day into the Grandpa said no, it editorwc@acresmidwest.com didn’t matter. for togetherkitchen ness. to talk to What mattered was that Richard But where was the telegram? Grandma. Early that morning Grandma had More low voices could be heard, and was going to be alright and that the called our house with some exciting then a terrible wail of disbelief. family, except for news: Milton had sent a telegram for “Oh my God,” Grandma cried. Milton, was all together for Thanksgiving. Milton was my mother’s “Richard’s been shot”. Thanksgiving. And he observed that youngest brother and was stationed in The house was thrown into instant even Milton was present, for hadn’t he Korea with the Marine Corps. And he tumult. We kids sat wide-eyed with sent the family a nice telegram? had sent a telegram from that faraway fear amid the weeping and shouting. So we all sat down to the big table in land. The security we had my grandparents’ dining room, warmed I didn’t know what a embraced just a moby the kerosene stove and a lot of love, telegram was but figment before was and gave truly heartfelt thanks for our ured it must be somenow shattered. And blessings. thing pretty special, suddenly a telegram Later, as pie and coffee were being judging by the excitedidn’t seem to matserved, a pickup truck drove into the ment it generated. So ter any more. yard and two hunters came to the door. upon arriving at my As the men talked, They wanted to speak to the father of grandparent’s home, I details of what hap- the boy who had been shot. As Grandpa wandered from room pened started coming went to the door, the men handed over to room looking for out. Apparently a his gun, knife and hunting coat. They the telegram. buck was running said they had spent several hours tryI thought it might down a mountainside ing to figure out who he was so they be a piece of furniand was shot at by a ture, or maybe even number of could return his possessions. THE TRADITIONAL something like the hunters, all of “Oh yeah, and your deer’s in the bed Thanksgiving Day meal whom missed. Victrola from which in the 1950s. Bing Crosby was Grandpa, who crooning about a was at the bottom Photo provided white Christmas. of the mountain, heard But I couldn’t find the fusillade and was anything new in the house that ready when the deer might be a telegram and I was too em- burst into an opening. He dropped the barrassed to confess my ignorance and buck with one shot. As Grandpa preask anyone. pared to field dress the animal, howThanksgiving usually fell in the mid- ever, a hunter came by and stopped to dle of deer season and it was a traditalk. tion for men of the family to spend the The man casually mentioned that in morning hunting, coming back to my the recent volley of shooting on the grandparent’s house for dinner. Around mountainside, a boy had been shot. noon the hunters started to arrive, Grandpa dropped his knife and took some with deer strapped to the fenders off, leaving the deer, his gun and his of their cars. coat behind. He found Richard, who As more and more uncles and had been shot in the leg by two stray cousins showed up, the house became buckshot pellets, in the company of sevfilled with a happy din of tall tales and eral other hunters. Together they carlaughter and people began talking ried Richard down the mountainside. louder and louder in order to be heard. Eventually Grandpa and Richard My brothers and I, too young to hunt, showed up at the house that Thankssat on the floor and eagerly devoured giving Day. Richard had fortunately the stories being told. suffered only flesh wounds, which had Eventually all the hunters had rebeen cleaned and treated at a nearby

Rural

Jeff Billiel

A TYPICAL family enjoys Thanksgiving dinner in the 1950s.

of the truck,” one of the men said. Everyone gathered around the truck, slapping Grandpa on the back and saying what a nice buck it was and what a good shot he had made. Grandpa didn’t say much, but he smiled a lot. Later that evening, as my family prepared to go home, I made one final tour of the house to see if I could find the elusive telegram. After failing again, I went home convinced that it must be one of those adult things that kids aren’t allowed to see. In time, however, I would learn all about telegrams, spending several Thanksgivings myself on foreign shores during the Vietnam War. And while there, it was via telegram that I learned my grandfather had died. While the military did its best to provide a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for those far from home, it could never duplicate what came out of Grandma’s kerosene-fired oven. Nor could it achieve the atmosphere of a house full of love and laughter. It is those things and others like them for which we are grateful on Thanksgiving Day. Jeff Billiel is editor of ACRES of West Central Ohio and executive editor and publisher of the Sidney Daily News

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