Neighborly Fence Care

Another version of this article by Christine Gelley was originally published by The Noble Journal Leader on September 10, 2018.

Fence care can make tempers flare between neighbors. Typically, when neighbors have similar goals, an agreeable strategy for fence maintenance can be worked out easily. When land use pursuits differ, there is a higher likelihood for conflict.

One of Ohio’s oldest rural laws is built around the care of partition fence. Ohio R.C. Chapter 971 defines a partition fence or “line fence” as a fence placed on the division line between two adjacent properties. In 2008, the law was updated to state “Partition fence includes a fence that has been considered a division line between two such properties even though a subsequent land survey indicates that the fence is not located directly on the division line.”

If both neighbors utilize the fence for similar purposes then the responsibilities are typically split evenly, which includes keeping the fence line clear of brush, briers, thistle and weeds within four feet of the fence.

Historically, in all cases, the responsibility of maintaining the fence fell on both landowners equally, but revisions made in 2008 determined that the responsibility of existing (prior to 2008) fence can be divided more fairly by considering six factors:

  • The topography of the property where the fence is or will be located.
  • The presence of streams, creeks, rivers or other bodies of water on the property.
  • The presences of trees, vines or other vegetation on the property.
  • The level of risk of trespassers on either property due to the population density surrounding the property or the recreational use of adjoining properties.
  • The importance of marking division lines between the properties.
  • The number and type of livestock that each landowner may contain with the fence.

If new fence is constructed, the responsibilities are different than in decades past. By definition, a “new” line fence is one constructed where a partition fence has never existed. In this case, the construction and maintenance responsibility are wholly the initiating landowner’s responsibility, unless the neighbor uses the fence for livestock containment within 30 years of construction. In that case, the landowner who built the fence could seek reimbursement from their neighbor by filing an affidavit with the county recorder.

To be compliant with state law, a new partition fence containing livestock must meet the standards of “preferred partition fence.” The following are considered preferred:

  • A woven wire fence of either standard or high tensile wire and topped with one or two strands of barbed wire that is at least 48 inches from the ground.
  • A nonelectric high tensile fence with at least seven strands of wire constructed in accordance with NRCS standards.
  • A barbed wire, electric or live fence to which the adjoining landowners agree, in writing.

Neighbors who wish to construct new fence must be granted ten feet on the adjoining property to perform construction and maintenance. However, the fence builder is liable for damages caused by the entry onto the adjoining property, including damages to crops.

Alternative landowner agreements are tools that can allow neighbors to create their own fence line agreements that alter how state law applies in their situation. In order to be considered valid and binding the agreement must:

  • Be in writing.
  • Include a description of the land where the fence is located.
  • Include a description of the purpose and use of the fence.
  • Be filed with the county recorder in the county where the land is located.

If a dispute regarding partition fence cannot be resolved between neighbors, there are two ways to proceed through resolution. A complaint may be filed with the board of township trustees or directly in the court of common pleas. Working through a resolution in these manners can be lengthy and complicated. Details on appropriate procedures for filing a complaint can be found in R.C. 971.09.

By far, the easiest way to decide on a plan for fence care is communicating with your neighbor. Openly stating your intentions and wishes in a courteous and polite manner with each other is best. Once you have reached an agreement, seal it with a handshake, but also, put it in writing and file it appropriately.

The information communicated in this article is gathered from Ohio Revised Code Chapter 971 and OSU Extension’s Fence Law Factsheet by Peggy Hall, which can be accessed online at: http://go.osu.edu/aglawlinefence.

Thank You Hay Day Supporters

It was a rainy evening at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station on Thursday, June 21, but Southeastern Ohio Hay Day 2018 went on without hesitation. Over 100 people from Ohio and Pennsylvania gathered at the farm to see equipment demonstrations and listen to presentations about making high quality hay.

Tractor dealers were present from L & H Tractor Sales of Caldwell, Baker & Sons Equipment of Lewisville, Lashley Tractor Sales of Quaker City, and JD Equipment of Zanesville. Each brought company representatives and demonstrated new equipment to local hay producers. Additional representatives from Anderson, Kubota, Woods, Rhino, and John Deere shared history of their companies, updates on what new investments have been made to provide better equipment for their customers, and insight on future endeavors.

New at this year’s Hay Day was a tradeshow. Noble County Farm Bureau, Brick Insurance Group, and Heritage Country Store spent time with attendees sharing how their goods and services can be helpful for their farms. Farm Credit Mid-America and Washington Electric Cooperative sponsored the refreshments offered during the program.

Extension personnel from Athens, Belmont, Guernsey, Harrison, Jefferson, Monroe, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble, Perry, and Washington Counties worked together to coordinate the event. The Eastern Agricultural Research Station staff were wonderful hosts, accommodating all in a welcoming environment.

Special thanks are extended to all who attended Hay Day this year and to our dealers, vendors, and volunteers! We will continue to bring you this program in years to come.

Save the date for the next Southeastern Ohio Hay Day on June 18, 2020.

Pruning Fruit Trees

Did you know that the best time to prune fruit trees in Ohio is March? March is the perfect time because it is the end of the dormant period. At this time the trees are not actively growing, the risk for cold injury on wounds is low, and there is less risk of pathogen entry.

Young fruit trees and mature fruit trees have different needs when it comes to pruning. Neglected trees are worth an article of their own.

Young fruit trees (1-5 years) need to be trained so that the framework of growth is desirable for both growth and harvest. When planting new trees, trim any branches below 24 inches. Ideally, you will want three to four evenly spaced branches around the trunk to use as scaffolds. Select your training style: open center, central leader, or modified central leader.

The most common style is central leader. Open center is often used for peaches, plums, and apricots. It allows good light filtration to reach all of the tree’s branches. Modified central leader is often used for apples, pears, and pecans. Side shoots should be trained to grow at a 60 to 70 degree angle.

When choosing which limbs to prune and which to train, consider symmetry for even fruit production and light filtration to lower branches. During the harvest season, mark any branches that produce shriveled and dried fruit to be pruned during the dormant season. Any damaged or diseased branches should also be removed.

Pruning mature trees may reduce number of fruit produced, but fruit size will be increased, ripening will be more uniform, sugar accumulation will be greater, and there will be fewer disease and pest problems as a result of better light filtration and air circulation.

If trees are vigorous growers, prune more aggressively. Avoid pruning too close to the main branch to keep wound size minimal. If the tree is very large or neglected, spread extensive pruning out over multiple years. Match your pruning tools to the size of branches. Use shears for small twigs, lopping shears for medium branches, and a hand saw for large limbs.

There are many aspects to pruning fruit trees correctly. For more details and illustrations, you can access the Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide for examples at: http://go.osu.edu/MWFPG.

The Colors of October

This article was first published in the Oct. 9, 2017 edition of The Journal.

 

The most relaxing place I know is a ridge top in October that overlooks a deciduous forest. That place is where I can find inner peace. With a good cup of coffee in one hand and an excellent book in the other, that is my place of solitude. So today, I will pay homage to the leaf pigments that create the splendid colors of October.

Deciduous trees are those which drop their leaves in autumn. Before the leaves drop, a color change occurs. The leaves of some trees turn a crusty brown. It gives the illusion that the leaf has simply died and will drop, but it is really more complex than that.

Within the leaves are a complex combination of pigments. Usually the pigment that is most apparent in the spring and summer is chlorophyll. It is responsible for green leaves. Therefore, when leaves begin to change it is the sign that chlorophyll is breaking down (due to fewer hours of sunlight during the day) and we see a color change. Where do the other pigments come from?

The other pigments were there all along, we just couldn’t see them. If chlorophyll was the dominant pigment, we only saw green. When chlorophyll declines, the other pigments are expressed. Carotene and xanthophyll pigments exhibit yellow colors. Anthocyanin pigments are responsible for reds and purples. In acidic conditions red is widely expressed and in alkaline conditions blue is expressed.

The combinations of these pigments vary from species to species, tree to tree, and even leaf to leaf. They create the lovely variety of fall colors so many of us enjoy this time of year. In wet years, you may see more reds and purples. In dry years, you may see more yellows and oranges. This is because anthocyanin pigments are water soluble.

A great local place to observe the autumn scenery is the Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Belle Valley. On a clear day from the overlook at the top of the ridge, you can see for miles. I encourage you to come and see.

A great time to do that would be at Beef and Grazing School, which continues on Tuesday, October 10 and Tuesday, October 17. Both programs run from 5:30-8 p.m. If you would like to know more details about these events, please call 740-732-5681.

Pasture Remnants and Recovery Following Flooding

 A version of this article by Christine Gelley was originally published by Farm and Dairy on July 20, 2017.

Summer 2017 has certainly been a wet one so far. Damage to agricultural land and crops has been noted across Ohio and beyond. Corn and bean setbacks seem to draw the most attention, but pasture damage is prevalent and concerning as well. Remediation of damaged pastures begins with evaluation.

Many of the forages used in our region are fairly resilient to submersion and waterlogged soils. How resilient they are depends on many factors including temperature, length of the stress period, depth of the water, growth stage of the plant, and silt deposition. Other associated concerns to be evaluated include stand age, animal activity, potential diseases related to flooding, erosion, and transport of weed seed from one property to another.

Warm temperatures increase the rate of plant damage and death, which is partially why summer flooding can cause more damage to plant tissue than spring floods. The longer the water sits and the deeper it becomes, the greater the chances for plant death. Standing water is more detrimental than flowing water. The more leaves that reach above the water surface, the better. Erosion will create soil fertility issues and silt deposition may suffocate some plants. Most of our common forages will tolerate 2 inches of deposited silt or less without substantial damage.

Actively growing alfalfa will typically recover from 3 days submerged. Phytophthora scouting should be done about a month following flooding and action taken if detected. Ryegrass and orchardgrass will survive several days submerged and tall fescue will persist even longer. Legumes tend to be less tolerant of submersion than grasses, but can persist exposed in waterlogged soils for extended periods. Alfalfa can typically survive 1-2 weeks of waterlogged soils, while white clover can tolerate up to three weeks, and red clover up to four weeks.

Water flow patterns can flush soil, weed seeds, manure, and microbes into flooded pastures and cause concerns for animal health. If deposited silt levels are too high, animals may accidently consume substantial amounts while grazing, which can cause digestive issues. Weed seeds can be swept into the pasture and establish themselves in the damaged areas, crowding out the desirable forages during flood recovery. Detrimental weeds taking over damaged areas will reduce intake of high quality forages and may pose risks if poisonous plants become established. In times of pasture stress, animals are more likely to consume poisonous plants in an effort to find enough to eat. Microbes and parasites are also easily transported into grazing pastures if water flows through an area of manure or sewage storage. It would be best to wait a week or two to return animals to pastures that have been flooded with tainted water. This will help maintain good herd health. Also, do not return animals to the pasture and/or use equipment in waterlogged areas until you can travel through the field without compressing the soil. Grasses that form a thick sod will be able to accommodate grazing more quickly than bunch type grasses.

Once the water has drained from the pasture and the soil, investigate if there are any management decisions you could make now to reduce damage if a duplicate flooding event occurred. Consider reseeding heavily damaged areas. Choose varieties that will withstand the conditions of your operation. Consider planting an annual forage to compensate in such areas as an emergency crop while you plan for the long term. Planting an annual forage will reduce further erosion, provide competition for weeds, and supply feed for animals more quickly than perennials. Annual ryegrass offers excellent tolerance to poorly drained soils, wheat has good tolerance, while oats, rye, and sorghum-sudangrass offer fair tolerance.

When the flood has receded and the sunshine returns, look forward to the future. Remember what you have learned and imagine the possibilities of tomorrow, rather than dwelling on the troubles of yesterday.

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Livestock Mortality Composting

Livestock death is an unfortunate reality that comes with the territory of farming. Inadvertent mortalities can occur as a result of predation, illness, and accidents. Although it is unpleasant to address, safe disposal of a perished livestock animal is a necessary task. The Ohio Department of Agriculture administers the regulations on allowable methods of disposal, which include: incineration, burial, rendering, or composting. Rendering plants have diminished in the local area, burial causes concerns about ground water pollution, and incineration can be quite expensive. Of all the options for disposal, composting is one of the most effective and efficient methods; especially for small scale farms that have large size livestock.

In Ohio, cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, goats, and swine may all be composed on-farm, given that the operator has secured certification through a sponsored training course. Composting is a natural biological process in which fresh organic material (in this case an animal carcass) is converted into stabilized organic residue. Although it is the same general principle, livestock mortality composting is trickier than composting kitchen scraps. Therefore, it is important that farms who chose to compost complete adequate training.

A Livestock Mortality Composting Training Course sponsored by Noble and Washington County OSU Extension will be offered from 6-8 p.m. on January 31 at the Southeast Region Extension Office. Producers who attend the course will become certified to compost the livestock previously mentioned in Ohio. The registration cost is $10 per person which will include a training manual and light refreshments. Official certificates of completion will be mailed to participants following the training. Call 740-732-5681 to register as soon as possible.

Sweep Up Those Stink Bugs

This article by Christine Gelley was originally published in The Journal on January 16, 2017.

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is causing frustration for home owners and farmers across America. These shielded, flying, stout, and brown insects are thought to have invaded the US from Asia in the mid-90s. Since the first one was positively identified in 2001 by Penn State they have spread across the country and now pose threats worth $21 billion to specialty food crops annually. They cause damage to many food crops including fruits, vegetables, and grains.

There are many different kinds of less common stink bugs in our region that including beneficial, predatory stink bugs. This past week I identified a type of stink bug I hadn’t seen before that was collected from a Noble County home after the holidays. It was distinctly different from the BMSB and turned out to be the twice-stabbed stink bug. Stink bugs do not create structural damage to homes, nor are they a problem if consumed by pets, and they do not bite. However, they are a severe annoyance and threat to American commodities. Damage from the BMSB sends a significant amount of valuable fresh fruits and vegetables to be processed and canned, instead of marketed whole and fresh each year. It is the BMSB that is most likely causing you distress at home this winter.

They enter your home in search of a place to overwinter until Spring. Their large size and ability to fly long distances makes it difficult to ignore their presence. They persistently enter homes through any crack or crevice they can fit through. Pesticides are unnecessary and generally ineffective tools for home control. The best way to keep stink bugs out, is to eliminate their way in by sealing cracks, door frames, windows, and utility access areas in your home. If you have them in your home, don’t be ashamed. Everyone does. Don’t let them get cozy. Find them. Sweep them up with a vacuum. Catch them in a pheromone trap. Drop them in soapy water. Freeze them. Smash them. Compost them. Whatever you prefer, stop them in their tracks. What serves as your annoyance this winter will become a severe agricultural pest this spring.

For addition information about the impact of the brown marmorated  stink bug and efforts to control it visit: www.StopBMSB.org.

Hay Testing for Efficient Winter Feeding

Another version of this article by Christine Gelley was originally published by Farm and Dairy on January 5, 2017.

It’s January in Ohio. Most graziers are probably feeding a good portion of hay as a part of their animals’ daily ration. Even if there is a supply of stockpiled forage available, we tend to make hay available just in case they need a little extra. It is likely that grain is also part of that daily ration. Well, how do you know how much hay, grain, and pasture they need? No one wants to leave their animals hungry. In addition, we don’t want to waste time or money with unnecessary feeding. Figuring out the balance can seem like a guessing game, but a great place to start is with a hay test.

Testing the hay you are feeding is well worth the price of sample analysis. Collecting a sample is not complicated and typically results are available from the lab within two weeks. You can acquire the tools and kits on your own to submit samples, or you can find them at most county Extension offices and often from Soil and Water Conservation Districts. Ag co-ops usually offer sample analysis services as well. Whoever you chose to go through, be sure to select the analysis package that will give you the detailed results you desire. The package that costs the least will probably still leave you guessing. My typical suggestion is to select a test that will give you values for moisture, crude protein (CP), acid detergent fiber (ADF), neutral detergent fiber (NDF), total digestible nutrients (TDN), and Relative Feed Value (RFV). Once you receive the results of your analysis, the challenge of interpreting the values arises. How do you know what values are good or bad?

Your hay test results will list values on a dry matter (DM) and an as-fed basis. Nutrients will appear to be higher for DM basis, because all the remaining water (% moisture) in the hay has been factored out. For CP, values of 8% or greater are desired. For ADF, lower is better. Increased ADF values equal decreased digestibility. Neutral detergent fiber is the amount of total fiber in the sample, which is typically above 60% for grasses and above 45% for legumes. As NDF increases, animal intake generally decreases. For TDN and RFV, the greater the values, the more desirable the forage. These values are useful for comparing your forage to other feeds available on the market. Once you have these values compiled you can start formulating rations based on nutritional values of the hay.

First, consider the needs of your animal. Stage of life, current weight, desired weight, and environmental conditions are all important factors. For the sake of an example, let’s assume we are developing a ration for a growing Angus heifer. Currently, she weighs about 800 lbs. and we want her to gain about 200 lbs. by the end of March. Ideally, we would like her to gain about 2 lbs./day. Now, let’s take a look at a hay test example and assume it is for our hay (see Figure 1.1).

Figure 1.1:

Sample #: Field 1
Sample Type Fescue Hay
Moisture (%) 15.91
Dry Matter (%) 84.09
Crude Protein (DM%) 12.53
Fiber ADF (DM%) 37.79
Fiber NDF (DM%) 72.03
Total Digestible Nutrients 59
Relative Feed Value 77

According to the information from our hay sample and the recommendations from the National Research Council for beef cows, we could expect this animal to eat about 21 lbs. of hay daily and gain 1.75 lb./day, coming in just short of our goal. This hay should be adequate for meeting the heifer’s energy needs as her main feedstuff. If we think it is worth the investment, supplementing with some high energy, high protein grain could help reach our desired average daily gain (ADG).

Soybean meal has an average of about 44% CP. Supplementing 1-2 lbs. of soybean meal (a pelleted form will increase animal intake) should provide the additional nutrition to reach our goal. Whole shell corn is about 9% CP, which is lower than the CP content of our hay. Unless we are concerned about our hay supply, supplementing corn may not be significantly beneficial.

This was just one example of how a hay test can help with the development of livestock rations. Recommendations will vary depending on types of hay, time of year, animal species, stage of life, and production goals. With so much possible variation, every little bit of knowledge we can secure is helpful for developing production goals and expectations.

Hay tests may not reveal ideal results and they can vary drastically between cuttings. That is the reality of attempting to manage nature. We can rarely do anything under ideal circumstances, but we do the best we can. As you look ahead to the next growing season and putting up hay once again, do everything you can to efficiently improve forage quality and nutritive value of your stored resources. The better the nutritive value of your forage, the less you will need to supplement and the more money you can keep in your pocket. Testing and formulating rations takes some effort, but once it becomes routine it will come with greater ease.

With that, I will leave you with a quote from Jim Rohn, “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying the basic fundamentals.”

 

Recycle Your Christmas Tree

If you featured a live tree in your home this holiday season, don’t sell your tree’s life short by leaving it out on the curb for trash pickup. Yes, the holidays have passed and it may be time to change your home decor once again, but that doesn’t have to be the end of life for your Christmas tree. Live trees are 100% recyclable. Here are some great ways to recycle your tree:

  1. Redecorate it as a Bird Feeder- This is a great project for kids and grown-ups alike. Find a place outside where you can leave your tree this winter, ideally within sight from a household window. Relocate your tree and decorate it with food for the birds. Dry fruit, grains, and seeds make excellent bird food. Make your own edible ornaments by decorating pinecones with peanut butter and bird seed. Use biodegradable twine or cotton yarn to hang the pinecones on the tree. Redecorate as needed through the winter and enjoy the sights and sounds of those who visit.
  2. Sink it in a Private Fish Pond- Christmas trees make great fish habitat. Sink your tree by attaching it to a concrete block near a bank. Recycled trees can provide fish habitat for 5-7 years before being replaced.
  3. Chip It- Raw wood chips are useful as ground cover, weed control, animal bedding, and composting. Some communities offer tree collection events and then donate the chips for community service projects.

Reduce, reuse, recycle! Why not start the year off with a resolution to recycle? For addition information about recycling and how you can get involved click here to visit the National Christmas Tree Association‘s manual on Community Recycling Programs.