Hay Buying Help, and Preparation for Next Year

By Garth Ruff, ANR Extension Educator, OSU Henry County Extension

With last week’s rain showers leaving much of the area saturated, there were limited opportunities for farming or even yardwork. I took advantage of the soggy conditions here in NW Ohio and headed south on Friday to a fairly productive couple of days in Morgan County. We had a good chance to winterize and store all of the hay equipment and tractors that we typically don’t use during winter time.

Regarding hay implement storage, we make an effort blow off the chaff, seeds, and dust with a leaf blower shortly after use and then pressure wash the piece prior to pulling in to the machinery shed for the down season. Once everything is cleaned off, each machine is greased and gear boxes are checked for fluid levels. Any major repairs or maintenance such as changing mowing knives can be done during the winter months as time allows. Given the unpredictability of the weather the past few years, it is nice to be able to pull the hay equipment out of storage, hook up to a tractor and head directly to the field. This eliminates the need of a full day of maintenance, especially when the hay making window is short.

That was the case for about all of 2018, as it was one lousy season for making dry hay across the state. For those who have to purchase hay this winter there are a few things to consider in terms of hay quality and value. There are some visual and sensory characteristics we can look at, as a gross indication of forage quality. The presence of seed heads (grass forages), flowers or seed pods (legumes), indicate more mature forages. Good-quality legume forages will have a high proportion of leaves, and stems will be less obvious and fine. While we tend to favor bright green forages from a visual perspective, color is not a good indicator of nutrient content, but bright green color does suggest minimal oxidation.

Smell of the forage and moisture content are also valuable indicators in determining hay quality. Good quality hay will have a fresh mowed grass odor; no musty or moldy odors. Dry hay made and stored at less than 15 percent moisture should be at minimal risk for molding.

Visual appraisal of the hay has some limitations, the only sure fire way to determine quality is to look at a forage analysis of the cutting. When looking at a forage sample analysis, perhaps the most valuable figure is the percentage of Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN). The higher the TDN value, the higher the digestibility of the forage, and increased digestibility is directly related to nutrient availability.

Other values that you may find on a forage analysis include Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF), Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF), Crude Protein, and Relative Feed Value (RFV). When interpreting the forage analysis goals for ADF, NDF, and Crude Protein vary between grass and alfalfa hay, but in general as fiber values increase, forage maturity tends to increase resulting in reduced digestibility for the livestock. A good rule of thumb for quality alfalfa or legume hay is a 40-30-20 analysis for NDF, ADF, and Crude Protein respectively.

I’ll end this week with a quote from Will Rogers: “It’s not what you pay a man, but what he costs you that counts.” Have a great week.

Historical Restoration Assistance

Brooke Beam, PhD

Ohio State University Extension, Highland County

Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator


History is a vital part of our present. Without our forefathers’ efforts we would not have the historic landmarks of our communities in rural America. Last week, I attended a seminar on the National Register of Historic Places and Federal and State Historic Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit programs. Through this seminar, I learned about several opportunities that may assist individuals in Highland County to rehabilitate historic properties for future generations to enjoy.

Currently, there are over 25 places listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Highland County, including Bell’s Opera House, Highland County Court House, and the Hillsboro Historic Business District (roughly bounded by Beech, Walnut, East, and West Streets in Hillsboro). The National Register of Historic Places is a program of the National Park Service, but is administered by each individual state.

Hillsboro Historic Business District highlighted in red, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Properties that are eligible to apply for the register need to be at least 50 years old and have retained the property’s basic historic integrity. The place should have “significance for its association with broad patterns of history, have association with the lives of person significant in our past, have architectural merit, or have the potential to yield information important in history or prehistory (archaeology),” according to the Ohio History Connection.

In order to take advantage of the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit properties must either be listed on the National Register or Historic Places or contribute to the historical significance of a registered historic district. The Federal Historic Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit is eligible for 20 percent of rehabilitation costs of income producing properties. The Federal Historic Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credit is not competitive, meaning that if a property meets the qualifications, the owner would receive the tax credit. The State program, however, is competitive.

There are myths associated with the tax credit programs that no changes may be made to the building; however, this is not the case. “Rehabilitation is defined in the Federal regulations as the process of returning a property to a state of utility through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions or features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural and cultural values,” according to the Ohio History Connection. Upgrades of functional kitchens, plumbing and lighting have been parts of previous rehabilitation projects.

There are dozens of projects throughout the state that have utilized these programs to reinvigorate their communities. Buildings in downtown Chillicothe and Wilmington have utilized the National Register of Historic Places and the historic tax credit programs to rehabilitate buildings of a variety of sizes. In Wilmington, an unused second floor of a downtown building was converted to a modern apartment, and in Chillicothe a larger building was rehabilitated into office spaces. Other projects in the state have included hotels and theatres.

For more information about the National Register of Historic Places or the Historic Tax Credit programs, contact the Ohio History Connection, State Historic Preservation Office at 614-298-2000 or visit ohiohistory.org/shpo. For other Community Development related support, call the Highland County Extension Office at 937-393-1918.


Extension Television Now Showing on the Hillsboro Local Access Channel

The Hillsboro Local Access Channel has begun to show Ohio State University Extension television programs on weekdays at 6:00 pm. Each of the programs are a half hour in length. The first program will be Agri-News with John Grimes and Duane Rigsby. Agri-News contains information about beef production. Additional programs will be added over the next few weeks. Other upcoming programs include Forage Focus with Christine Gelley, which covers forage and pasture related topics, and Marketing Matters with host Christie Welch, which discusses a variety of small business marketing strategies that are appropriate for any small business.

The majority of the television programs are filmed at the OSU South Centers in Piketon, Ohio, and feature Ohio State University Extension Educators and researchers. All of the shows contain research-based content that can benefit Highland County agricultural producers and businesses. If you do not receive the Local Access Channel, the videos will also be available on the Highland County Extension blog, https://u.osu.edu/osuextensionhighlandcounty/, and on YouTube at the OSU South Centers page, https://www.youtube.com/user/southcenters.


Upcoming Events:

The next Highland County Monthly Extension Program will be held on December 10, 2018, at 10:00 A.M. at the Ponderosa Steakhouse in Hillsboro, Ohio. More details will be coming soon, please save the date and plan to attend.

Fertilizer and Pesticide Recertifications:

February 19, 2019

Ponderosa Banquet Center, 545 S. High Street, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133

5:00 pm to 6:00 pm Fertilizer Recertification – Private and Commercial

6:30 pm Pesticide Recertification (Core, 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6) Private Applicators Only


March 4, 2018

Ponderosa Banquet Center, 545 S. High Street, Hillsboro, Ohio 45133

10:00 am to 11:00 am Fertilizer Recertification – Private and Commercial

11:30 am Pesticide Recertification (Core, 1, 2,3, 4, 5, 6) Private Applicators Only

Registration details will come in the mail from the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Registration for OSU Extension Pesticide and Fertilizer and your renewal application for ODA Pesticide/Fertilizer must both be completed. Meals will be included at each recertification training at Ponderosa.

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetles

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

After the freezing temperatures this weekend, the plants on the deck were finished off and put out of their misery. I brought some catnip in for Miss Kitty but decided to leave the Rosemary plant outside. I have 5 houseplants in the sunroom (one of which is Oat grass for Miss Kitty) and I don’t plan on having any more!

Have you noticed any new “bugs” buzzing around inside? Last week, I kept getting dive-bombed while I was working in the garden by Asian Ladybugs. How do I know? Because I made the serious mistake of smashing one on my arm and the smell was the best clue!

According to Ohioline Factsheet ENT-44, Lady beetles, which are sometimes called ladybugs or lady bird beetles, are familiar insects in many parts of the United States. Lady beetles generally are beneficial predators that consume aphids, scale insects, and many other pests that injure plants in our garden, landscapes, and agricultural settings. In 1975, the “Ladybug” became Ohio’s official state insect by resolution of the Ohio General Assembly.

The multicolored Asian lady beetle (MALB) is native to Asia, where it is an important predator that feeds on aphids and other soft-bodied insects that dwell in trees. It is well documented that MA LB was intentionally imported from Russia, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere in the Orient and released in a number of U.S. states and Nova Scotia, Canada, as part of USDA biological control programs to manage insect pests of trees.

MALB was recognized in Ohio in October 1993, when some residents reported that thousands of lady beetles were congregating on homes and buildings, with many of these insects finding their way indoors.

The MALB life cycle from egg to adult requires about a month or so, depending on the weather and food supply. Thus, there are multiple generations per season in Ohio.

An important feature used to distinguish MA LB from other lady beetles found in Ohio, including native species, is the appearance on the white pronotum (top covering of middle body part) of a black regularly to irregularly shaped “M” or “W”, depending upon whether the beetle is viewed from the front or from the rear.

The MALB has several bad habits. Their negative behavior and impacts can be separated into four general categories: interior pest; outdoor nuisance pest; fruit and fruit products pest; and competitor to other predators including native lady beetles.

When lady beetles are disturbed, they defend themselves by exuding a yellow-orange body fluid, which is their blood. Research has shown that MALB’s defense blend is one of the most powerful deterrents against predators that is found in all lady beetles. The blood has a foul odor and can permanently stain walls, drapes, carpeting, etc.

An effective way to quickly collect and dispose of large numbers of MALB in a home is to use a “fan-bypass” vacuum cleaner (e.g., shop-vac). This type of vacuum cleaner has the vacuum impeller (fan) positioned after a collection container or bag; refuse is collected in the bag or container without passing through the impeller. I just wish my shop vac wasn’t so loud!

Want to learn more about MALB? Go to the OSU Ohioline website and search for factsheet ENT-44.

I finally finished up in the garden. I didn’t want to gaze down at all the weeds for the entire winter. It’s time for me to sit down and start designing my raised beds that we are building in the spring. Hopefully that will help in the battle against the weeds!

Ohio State University Extension Television Programs Now Available on the Hillsboro Local Access Channel

Starting today, tune into the Hillsboro Local Access Channel on weekdays at 6:00 pm to watch a selection of Ohio State University Extension television programs. Ag-News with John Grimes, Forage Focus with Christine Gelley, and Marketing Matters with Christie Welch are a few of the upcoming programs you will be able to see. Topics included in the television shows provide valuable information for agricultural producers and small business owners.

If you do not receive the local access channel on your television, you may also view the shows on the Highland County Extension blog or on the OSU South Centers YouTube page, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCszLsdzdt78PqCMHq-NzMWQ.

Garden Ideas for November

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer

As I walked around our 5 acres this weekend I realized that I was already making my “wish list” for next spring. My goal is to have a spark of fall color in a few more places. Trees, shrubs, perennials can all provide fall interest in your landscape.

I finally planted the rest of my small trees that had been sitting in pots in my staging area under the carport. Orange flags will hopefully protect them from the dreaded string-trimmer. What did I plant? Two small catalpa trees, Button bush, Elderberry, Hop tree, and Bladdernut. It took me a while to decide just where I wanted to plant them. I have to admit that when I purchased them, I had no clue where they were going. I just wanted to bring them home with me!

Ornamental grasses offer fall and winter color and movement in the landscape. I leave the seed heads for the birds to enjoy through the winter and cut all grasses back in early spring. Next spring  Japanese Blood grass is an easy way to add a splash of red to your wind garden. It is not aggressive (at least where I have it planted) and only reaches 12 to 14 inches in height. Pampas grass is a stretch for my zone, but mine seems to be thriving in its protected location. A suggested alternative for Pampas grass is Karl Foerster.  Don’t forget about our native grasses! I am slowly replacing the Miscanthus (considered invasive) with Big and Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, Prairie Dropseed and Switchgrass.

Autumn sedum and Joe Pye Weed are also beautiful in the fall and winter. The snow-covered seed heads also provide winter treats for the birds.

I have discovered a few books that will help me with my plans for more fall color in my landscape. 8 Months of Color written by Janet Macunovich provides the reader with an easy way to choose plants by week of peak bloom, color, and height. The plants listed are for USDA hardiness zones 4, 5, 6 and 7. Tracy Disabato-Aust has written a “must have” for all busy gardeners. Her book, 50 High-Impact, Low-Care Garden Plants, proves that low-maintenance doesn’t mean low-interest.

Pam Bennett, co-author of Garden-Pedia: An A-To-Z Guide to Gardening Terms, and contributing writer for the magazine, Ohio Gardener, suggests some gardening tasks for November that include:

  1. Clean and sharpen tools and lawn mower 2)
  2. Plant amaryllis and paperwhites for holiday bloom
  3. Cut fresh greens from your evergreens to be used for holiday decorations and
  4. Consider purchasing a balled and burlapped living Christmas tree. If you do this, dig the hole for the tree before the ground freezes.

The Bald Cypress tree we planted close to the “deer path” has been surrounded with snow fence to keep rubbing bucks at bay. We have 3 Norway spruce that seem to be the victims each year as the deer travel through our property. Thankfully they haven’t started on any new trees…..yet!

We hope you will join us at our garden seminar on Thursday, November 15 at the Mt. Orab campus of Southern State Community College. Doug Dyer, OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer, will talk about Poison Hemlock and other invasive weeds. Remember that all seminars are free and open to the public and are held in Room 208 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Have you started making your list for next year? Look around and see what spots need more color!

Thanksgiving Turkey Traditions

Brooke Beam, PhD

Ohio State University Extension, Highland County

Agriculture and Natural Resources/Community Development Extension Educator


November 5, 2018


The holidays are rapidly approaching. Family gatherings, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with The Ohio State University Marching Band, and bountiful meals are scheduled on the calendar for Thanksgiving week. As with previous Thanksgivings, my mother, grandmother, and I plan who will be preparing what dish for our family’s holiday meal.

While every family has their own variation of the Thanksgiving meal, turkey is a predominant staple on many American tables. According to the University of Illinois Extension, 88 percent of Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving, which equates to 46 million turkeys consumed on Thanksgiving annually. Although turkeys now are considered to many families as the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, this was not always the case.

At the first Thanksgiving in 1621, turkey was likely not served on the table as the main source of meat. Venison, ducks, geese, and even swans were regularly consumed by colonists, according to the History Channel. Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the children’s rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” also played a significant part to shape our Thanksgiving dinner table.

Hale served as an editor for Godey’s Lady’s Book, a women’s magazine in the 1830s. Through this publication, Hale championed for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday, according to the National Women’s History Museum. While President George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving in 1789, President Abraham Lincoln was the first president to select a date for Thanksgiving to be held in November.

While the tradition of Thanksgiving being held on the fourth Thursday of November has stayed consistent since the 1800s, the method of how we obtain our bountiful meal has not. With the development of grocery stores and restaurants, how many Americans source their meal has changed over time. Since turkeys are now raised on farms, the number and quality of the birds have increased to the point where turkey is a regular staple in many meals throughout the year. “In 1970, 50 percent of all turkey consumed was during the holidays, now just 29 percent of all turkey consumed is during the holidays as more turkey is eaten year-round,” according to the University of Illinois Extension.

For hunters who would rather hunt for their turkey in the wild rather than in the store, there are two wild turkey hunting seasons in Ohio. There is a wild turkey hunting season in the spring and fall. Spring wild turkey hunting season encompasses all counties in the State of Ohio. However, only a portion of the counties in Ohio allow for fall wild turkey hunting. Highland, Ross, Pike, Adams, Brown, and Clermont Counties allow fall wild turkey hunting, while Clinton and Fayette Counties do not. During the fall season, turkey hunters are allowed to harvest one wild turkey per hunter. The Fall Wild Turkey season runs from October 13 to November 25, 2018. More information on Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations can be found at http://wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/hunting-trapping-and-shooting-sports/hunting-trapping-regulations/season-dates-and-bag-limits. For more information related to agriculture and natural resource related questions, contact the Highland County Extension Office at 937-393-1918.

Do you and your family have any unique Thanksgiving traditions? Share your Thanksgiving traditions in the comment section below.



History.com Editors. (2011). First Thanksgiving Meal. Retrieved from: https://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving/first-thanksgiving-meal

Norwood, A. (2017). Sarah Josepha Hale. Retrieved from: https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/sarah-hale

University of Illinois Extension. (2018). Turkey for the Holidays. Retrieved from: http://extension.illinois.edu/turkey/turkey_facts.cfm


Upcoming Events:

The Global Climate Change Update with Dr. Thomas Blaine from The Ohio State University will be held on Tuesday, November 13, 2018, from 6: 30 P.M. to 7:30 P.M. The program will be held at the Brown County Fairgrounds, Rhonemus Hall. The cost to attend is free, but registration is required. For more information or to register, contact James Morris at morris.1677@osu.eduor at the Brown County Extension Office at 937-378-6716.

The next Highland County Monthly Extension Program will be held on December 10, 2018, at 10:00 A.M. at the Ponderosa Steakhouse in Hillsboro, Ohio. More details will be coming soon, please save the date and plan to attend.


Fall Planting Milkweed Seeds

Submitted by Faye Mahaffey

OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer


Can you believe it’s almost November? I seem to sound like a “broken record” each month, complaining that the days just flew by!

The rain and wind continue to knock down the leaves and now the Cottonwood leaves are creating a heavy mat on the grass. Those leaves are the toughest to deal with as far as I am concerned! And now walking down by the creek has become quite tricky because of all the black walnuts on the ground!

November is a great time to plant milkweed seeds according to Tony Gomez (monarchbutterflygarden.net). It’s too warm for the ground to be frozen, but too cold for seeds to sprout before winter sets in. Remember that perennial milkweed seeds need cold stratification, so why not let winter take care of that naturally! Exposing seeds to cool temperatures before the warmer temps of spring will cause them to break their dormancy, coaxing out your new spring seedlings.

The 10 simple steps to fall planning milkweed seeds include:

  1. Put your seeds into a small bowl and bring out to the planting area.
  2. Clear away any mulch or rocks from the area which could potentially block the growth of a small seedling.
  3. Water the area thoroughly and let it saturate the soil.
  4. Put on garden gloves and stick your index finger in the dirt up to your first knuckle.
  5. Repeat this process for each seed you are planting.
  6. Place a seed in each hole.
  7. Cover the seeds with the already-moist soil.
  8. Mark your seed area with sturdy plant labels.
  9. Do you have squirrels? You might want to consider putting down chicken wire to deter squirrels or other pesky critters from digging up your new milkweed patch.
  10. Relax for the winter!

I am still hoping to get some small trees planted before the ground freezes, but I might have to do it in the rain! We all complained about the hot humid weather and how it kept us from working in our gardens. Now that the cooler weather is here, I would love for it to stop raining long enough for me to finish my October “to-do list”. How about you?

Don’t forget to mark your calendar for the garden seminar on Thursday, November 15at the Mt. Orab campus of Southern State Community College. Doug Dyer, OSUE Brown County Master Gardener Volunteer, will talk about Poison Hemlock and other invasive weeds. Remember that all seminars are free and open to the public and are held in Room 208 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The wind is howling, and the leaves are blowing! It’s a great day to stay inside and plan next year’s gardens!