Snowy Owls in Ohio

Not all birds live in Ohio year-round, especially during the winter months. It is common to see bald eagles, hawks, sparrows, crows, geese, and other feathered species including owls. Interestingly, while twelve different owl species have been recorded in Ohio, only half are commonly found in the winter. One occasional visitor, the snowy owl, has been spotted in NW Ohio this past week.

The snowy owl is appropriately named as it regularly nests in the snowy Arctic tundra, some 2000 miles away from Putnam County. Males are mostly white while females more commonly have black bars on their feathers. Both males and females have white faces.

The number of snowy owls reaching Ohio in the winter varies from year to year. This largely depends on whether there are enough lemmings (a small rodent found in the North American tundra) for them to hunt. When the number of lemmings declines, snowy owls will fly south in search of food.  They will then expand their diet to include other bird species and small mammals like voles, mice, and rats.

Snowy owls are usually spotted along Lake Erie but can be found further south. They prefer the expanse of agricultural lands which is like the snow-covered tundra where they nest. In contrast to other owl species, snowy owls feed during the day, not the night.

Snowy owls will perch for long periods in search of prey – and are easily observed by passersby. Several snowy owls were spotted this past week. Owls are fairly large birds with a four-foot wingspan and weighing 4-5 pounds. Keep your eyes peeled for additional sightings of this magnificent winter visitor!

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2022 Putnam County Livestock Programs

Putnam county producers raise a large number of livestock each year – including hogs, cattle, sheep, and poultry. In 2022, producers will have the opportunity to attend both a Beef Quality Assurance Certification and Recertification program and a Livestock Mortality Composting Program.

Beef Quality Assurance
Thursday, January 13 from 7:00 to 8:30 PM

Many buyers only source beef from producers trained in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA). Ensure that you have complete market access by becoming BQA Certified or Recertified. Clint Schroeder, Extension Educator from Allen County, will conduct the program and answer producer questions and concerns.  There is no charge for this program.

Livestock Mortality Composting
Wednesday, February 2 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM

Composting is an economical and efficient method of disposal for livestock. Certification is needed in Ohio to compost cattle, horses, poultry, sheep, goats, and swine. This program will review how to appropriately construct, monitor, and manage your compost system. The course will be taught by OSU Extension Specialist Glen Arnold.  There is a $10 fee to attend this program and includes all materials.

Programs will take place at the Putnam County Extension Office.



Putnam County Coffee Talk Begins January 7

The extension office is excited to announce a new monthly series of programs that have been developed together with the Putnam County Soil and Water Conservation Service.  This series is called “Putnam County Coffee Talk” and will feature topics for both our agriculture industry as well as homeowners and the general public.

Putnam County Coffee Talk will take place on the first Friday of each month from 8:30 to 11:00 am at the OSU Extension office located at 1206 East 2nd Street in Ottawa. An agriculture-focused topic will begin at 8:30 and conclude at 9:30. Coffee and light refreshments will be available from 9:30 to 10:00 am. The homeowner/resident topic will run from 10:00 to 11:00 am.

The first segment of Coffee Talk will be on Friday, January 7 focusing on local and regional land values, a topic important to farmers, landowners, and residents alike. You might be interested to learn how land values have changed in and around Putnam County this past year and anticipated value changes for 2022 and beyond.

Both sessions will feature a panel of local land value experts, including Bob Benroth from the Putnam County auditor’s office, a local appraiser, and auctioneer. Sessions will discuss land values, CAUV, and the panel will be open for questions from all. Come to one session or stay for both and enjoy a coffee break in between!

Additional topics for the coming months include:

  • February 4: “Managing Manure on the Farm – Techniques and Regulations” followed by “The Scoop on Poop – Manure Applications in and Around the Home”
  • March 4: “The Why, How, and Where of Planting Windbreaks” followed by “Backyard Trees 101 – Ornamental and Fruiting Trees for Putnam County”
  • April 1: “Micronutrient Applications on the Farm – Bust or Benefit?” followed by “ABC’s of Lawn Care”
  • May 6: “Local Government Programs and Updates” followed by “Planting Primer for Your Putnam County Garden”
  • June 3: “Where Are We with Water Quality in Putnam County?” followed by “Managing Your Pond”

There will be no session in July, and Coffee Talk will resume on the first Friday from August through November. We hope to see you there!


Extension Office Taking Putnam County AG Hall of Fame Nominations

Since its creation in 1820, Putnam County has long been recognized as a highly productive agricultural county in Ohio. Past and present farmers have worked the ground, tended crops, raised livestock, protected our streams and rivers, and developed innovative equipment and methods to ensure that we have an abundance of food on our tables.

Early next year we will once again recognize our strong agricultural heritage by inducting recipients into the Putnam County Agriculture Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame honors individuals and businesses that have contributed significantly to Putnam County’s agricultural legacy. Last year, the Putnam County Agriculture Hall of Fame inducted Lewis Klass, formerly of Leipsic, Donald Kimmet of Ottawa, and Albert Maag of Findlay.

We need your help in identifying potential recipients for 2022 and beyond. If you know of someone who has contributed to the county’s agricultural base, please contact our office so that we may send them or a representative of their family a nomination form. Nomination forms may also be found on our website at

Award nominees, whether living or deceased, must have made their major contribution to agriculture as a result of being born in, living in, beginning or completing their career in Putnam County, Ohio. Nominations may be made in the following categories: producer or farmer; or an agricultural-related activity such as a business, industry association, education, or government.

A wooden plaque honoring our Putnam County Agriculture Hall of Fame recipients since 2018 is on display at the Courthouse in the Recorders office.

Putnam County Ag Hall of Fame Application


Celebrate the Holidays with Holiday Cactus

The Christmas season is upon us. Lights, trees, and holiday greens and plants are all around. Most people think of poinsettias as the traditional plant to decorate with for the holidays. Two holiday plants that can be purchased in bloom from Thanksgiving through Christmas are called holiday cacti. These include both Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus.

Both Thanksgiving and Christmas cactus plants are commonly given as houseplants or flowering plants during the holiday season. What are the differences between these two holiday cacti? Both are species of Schlumbergera, a leaf cactus, where the leaves are segments of the plant stem called pads. The Thanksgiving cactus has very sharp pointed leaf edges and flowers typically in the fall around Thanksgiving. The Christmas cactus has softer, scalloped edges and flowers a little later, closer the Christmas.

Image courtesy of

Holiday cacti are called “short day plants” meaning they require short days (less than 12 hours of light) to set flower buds. Cool night temperatures can also help to set the buds. This environment naturally occurs in Ohio in the fall.

They can be very long-lived, and when given the right conditions, they will rebloom each year.

During the summer, plants may be located outside on a deck, patio, window box, etc. in part shade (3-6 hours of sunlight per day). Filtered sunlight, such as under a tree, is preferable as it mimics the plant’s natural habitat. Excessive sunlight may result in pale green branches, drought, and sunburn.

One way to initiate flower buds next year is to leave plants outdoors in a protected location until just before frost danger. The shortening days and cooler nights of fall signal the plant to produce flowers buds resulting in abundant blooms. Alternatively, locate holiday cacti indoors a cool, bright location where daytime temperatures are 65-70° F and evening temperatures are 55-65° F. When plants are exposed to cooler night temperatures of 55° F, they bloom in approximately 5-6 weeks, sometimes regardless of the day length. However, when the night temperature is 60-65° F, plants must have at least 12 hours of complete darkness every night for about 6 weeks to bloom. Plants are unlikely to bloom if exposed to night temperatures above 65° F.


Can you tell what kind of holiday cactus this is?  Hint: the sharply pointed stems indicate that this is a Thanksgiving cactus!

Caring for Christmas Trees

Many families celebrate the end of the Thanksgiving holiday season by selecting and decorating a live Christmas tree in their homes.

Last year, over 32 million live Christmas trees were purchased at box stores, garden centers, Christmas tree lots and local Christmas tree farms across the United States.

Most trees are generally purchased the first weekend in December, which just happens to fall right after Thanksgiving this year – but sales continue all the way through Christmas Eve.

Do you have a preferred type of Christmas tree? Pine, spruce, and fir are the most common conifers cut and purchased for Christmas trees. Conifers are trees that produce their seeds in cones. They also have needle or scale-like leaves that stay green all winter long. Hence, they are also called evergreen trees.

One can identify each type of conifer by examining the needles and how they are attached to the stem. If needles are attached to the stem in clusters of 2-5 needles, then the tree is a pine. Spruce and fir trees have individual needles directly attached to the stem.

To distinguish the difference between a spruce and fir tree, feel the texture, shape, and rolling ability of the needle. Spruce needles tend to be sharply pointed and easily roll between your fingers. Fir needles tend to be soft and flat and are difficult to roll.

Once you’ve picked the perfect conifer to bring home – you’ll want ensure it performs all season long. The following tips can help trees retain needles longer once in the home.

Cut ½ to 1” from the end of the trunk and immediately place the tree in cool water. Several hours after a tree is cut, the trunk can no longer absorb water. The freshly cut trunk removes any blocked vascular tissue and allows the tree to take up water again.

Place your Christmas tree in a cool room. Warm temperatures cause trees to dry out quickly.  Make sure to keep live trees away from heat sources such as air vents, wood stoves, fireplaces, etc.

Trees take up the most water in the first few weeks after cutting. Select a tree stand that holds at least one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. If the tree stand accidentally runs out of water, it will need to be taken down and an additional ½ to 1” removed from the base of the trunk. This can be nearly impossible once trees are decorated, so check stands several times each day. Indoor pets also like to drink from tree stands which may require more frequent watering.

Once the Christmas season is over and needles begin to shed, it is time to remove the tree. You may want to wrap the tree in a sheet or tree bag before taking it outdoors to prevent considerable needle shed in the home. Check with your local community or village on whether there is a local tree drop off/pick up or recycling program. Trees can also be chipped and recycled into mulch.

Webinar for 2021 ARC and PLC Program Year

OSU Extension will be offering two webinars this winter focused specifically on the ARC/PLC decision, reviewing decision-tool calculators available to evaluate options, and current market outlook. The dates for these webinars are January 13th from 1:00-3:00 pm and February 25th from 9 -11 am. Both programs are free to attend, but registration is required. Register online at:

Additionally, OSU Extension and the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE) are offering several webinars between now and the March 15th enrollment deadline for producers to get up to date market outlook information. For information about AEDE’s 2021 Winter Outlook Meetings, visit


ARC and PLC Elections for 2021 Crop Year

This article was originally posted on the Ohio AG Manager Blog at

Enrollment for the Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2021 crop year opened in October, with the deadline to enroll and make amendments to program elections on March 15, 2021. This signup is for potential payments for the 2021 crop.

If changes are not made by the March 15th deadline, the election defaults to the programs selected for the 2020 crop year with no penalty. While changes to program elections are optional, producers must enroll (sign a contract) each year to be eligible to receive payments. What does that mean? Even if you do not change your program elections, you  still need to make an appointment at the Farm Service Agency to sign off on enrollment for the 2021 crop year by the March 15th deadline.

Producers have the option to enroll covered commodities in either ARC-County, ARC-Individual, or PLC. Program elections are made on a crop-by-crop basis unless selecting ARC-Individual where all crops under that FSA Farm Number fall under that program. These are the same program options that were available to producers during the 2019 and 2020 crop years. Producers may want to amend program election to better manage the potential risks facing their farms during the 2021 crop year.

As you consider amending your program choices, here are some important reminders:

PLC payments are triggered by low prices. PLC is a disaster price program and pays when the marketing year average price is below a reference price. The marketing year average price (MYAP) is an average price calculated using cash prices across the nation over the course of a year. The 2021 marketing year for wheat is May 2021 – June 2022 and for corn and soybeans is August 2021 – September 2022. This means that the MYAP for 2021 for wheat will not be known until June 2022 and the MYAP for corn and soybeans will not be known until September 2022. PLC payments will only be triggered for a covered commodity if the MYAP published at the end of the marketing year are below the reference price. The reference price for corn is $3.70, for soybeans is $8.40, and for wheat is $5.50.

ARC-County payments are triggered by low county revenues. Revenues are calculated using the market year average price times the county average yield. When producers enrolled for 2019 and 2020, they were enrolling after the 2019 crop had been harvested. Yields for 2019 were known at the time of the enrollment deadline for that year. For the 2021 crop year, producers will be enrolling before the crop is planted.

Producers have less information about both price and yields for the 2021 enrollment period, compared to the last enrollment period. When producers enrolled for 2019 and 2020, we were more than halfway through the marketing year for each crop, so there was much more information on price expectation. For the 2021 crop year, producers will be enrolling before the marketing year begins.

The maximum ARC-IC payment is triggered in cases where an FSA Farm has 100% Prevent Plant acres. At the time of enrollment for the 2019 crop year, producers knew if they had FSA Farms that fit this description and were able to use that information to decide if ARC-IC was a good fit for a FSA Farm. For the 2021 crop year, producers will need to decide by March 15th if ARC-IC is still the right choice for those farms without knowledge of how many acres they will have in Prevent Plant. While some FSA Farms triggered large payments for ARC-IC in 2019, producers may want to re-assess this program election for the 2021 crop year if they do not expect to put those farms in 100% Prevent Plant in 2021.

For most producers, the number one consideration driving program election is the market. What are markets going to do? We will not know the MYA price for corn or soybeans until September of 2022, and a lot could change in that time.

OSU Extension and the Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics (AEDE) are offering several webinars between now and the March 15th enrollment deadline for producers to get up to date market outlook information. For information about AEDE’s 2021 Winter Outlook Meetings, visit

Additionally, OSU Extension will be offering two webinars this winter focused specifically on the ARC/PLC decision, reviewing decision-tool calculators available to evaluate options, and current market outlook. The dates for these webinars are January 13th from 1:00-3:00 pm and February 25th from 9 -11 am. Both programs are free to attend, but registration is required. Register online at:

2021 Small Farm College – POSTPONED UNTIL FALL 2021


Are you a small farm landowner wondering what to do with your acreage?  Are you interested in exploring options for land uses but not sure where to turn or how to begin?  Have you considered adding an agricultural or horticultural enterprise, but you aren’t sure what may be required for equipment, labor, and/or management?  Are you looking for someplace to get some basic farm information?

If you or someone you know answered yes to any of the above questions – then the Ohio State University Extension New and Small Farm College program may be for you!

OSUE’s New and Small Farm College is a five-session short course that will be held one night a week beginning in January.  The 2021 Ohio New and Small Farm College program will be held in four locations across the state including right here in Putnam County!  These sessions will be held at the OSU Putnam County Extension Office, 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa.  Classes will be held on Thursdays beginning January 21 and concluding February 18, 2021.

Face-to-face sessions will address the following topics:

  • Getting started with a small farm (goal setting, family matters, business planning, budgeting, resources)
  • Appropriate land use -Walking the Farm;
  • Small farm legal checkup and farm insurance;
  • Financial and business management strategies for decision makers of small farms;
  • Where to get help – an overview of County resources; OSU Extension, government agencies and programs, (i.e. CAUV, EQIP, grants, etc).

In addition to the five traditional face-to-face sessions, the 2021 Small Farm College includes on-demand webinars, podcasts and other resources and content that participants can access virtually. These topics will include: Horticulture and Livestock Production Enterprises; Natural Resources and Wildlife; Honeybees; New Crops such as Hops, Malting Barley, and Hemp; Marketing Alternatives, and more.

All sessions begin each evening at 6:00 PM with a light dinner followed by the nightly presentations from 6:30 PM to 9:00PM. COVID-19 precautions will be in place at all locations.  Due to spacing and social distancing requirements, class size at each location will be limited. 

The cost of the course is $100 per person, $75 for an additional family member.  Each participating family will receive a small farm college notebook full of the information presented in each class session plus additional materials.  Registrations are now being accepted. You may also find more information at the following website:  For more details about the course contact Tony Nye, Small Farm Program Coordinator (937)382-0901 or email at

Registration forms can be found on our website (, by calling the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, by email at or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.