Co-op People

Rick Moore with his flock.

Sheep-shape

Ohio, believe it or not, is the largest wool-producing state east of the Mississippi River. Sheep farms here come in all sizes, from larger commercial operations to small boutique plots. 

Multigenerational

Rick Moore is the seventh generation in his family to raise sheep at Cottage Hill Farm near Cadiz in Harrison County. The farm began as a land grant signed by James Madison in 1816. 

Moore’s son Steven and his father, Stanley — still active at 88 — farm with him. The foundation of Moore’s flock is 250 purebred Merino ewes. In alternating years, some are bred to purebred Merino rams and continue the line of high-quality wool production, while others are crossed with other breeds to produce lambs for meat.

Pork loin

Caterer on wheels

When Dan and Tawni Batdorf hit the road to their latest catering job, they bring a spacious kitchen with all the conveniences of home right along with them.

The Batdorfs started Red Barn Catering in 1998, working from the back of a pickup truck stacked with coolers, grills, and cooking utensils. One of their early engagements had them preparing 77 customer appreciation lunches for Ebberts Field Seeds, down the road from their Miami County farm. They still work that lunch, but today, the number of lunches they produce for the annual event has grown to about 630.

“We definitely needed something more than a pickup truck bed,” Tawni Batdorf says with a chuckle. “We needed a place out of the rain and the sun and a place to wash dishes.”

Gary Snyder pictured with a bronze plaque honoring his comrades

Some gave all

It was the pandemic that moved him to action. “I was just sitting around, getting outside, kind of bored,” he says. “We have a lot of space out here, and I started thinking I ought to put in a memorial for my buddies who didn’t make it back.”

And so, he did. With the help of landscapers, stonemasons, contractors, and monument-makers, Snyder funded and built an impressive military memorial right in his backyard. 

Alpaca-shorn yarns

Spring yarns

When a young woman approached Robbie and Carrie Davis about making the yarn for her wedding shawl, they readily obliged. The bride-to-be wanted the yarn to contain fleece from a specific alpaca, so they created an alpaca-silk blend especially for her.

A cria is a baby alpaca, and the farm’s name was inspired by the couple’s years of alpaca industry experience. They acquired their first alpacas in 2006 and soon began breeding and showing the animals at fairs with help from their son, Jessie, who is now 20 and an aviation technology student at Sinclair Community College. Alpacas don’t shed, so Robbie and Carrie became adept at shearing. 

Fresh bread

Crushing it

Chris Bihn is a born educator, and while he may have left the classroom, he’s more committed than ever to teaching. These days, his lesson plans involve the production of nutrient-rich and easily digestible food through an innovative process of crushing grain.

Bihn, a former high school teacher and a member of St. Marys-based Midwest Electric, heads a family business known as Our Fathers Food, which uses a patented technique for preparing organic grain and seed for human consumption that yields unlimited shelf life without chemicals, preservatives, enrichments, or nutrient loss.

Groovy Plants Ranch

Feelin' groovy

As the summer-of-love sound of Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” echoes through the shady grounds of Groovy Plants Ranch, shoppers give their toddlers and dogs a leisurely wagon ride, pulling them slowly along while oohing and aahing over hanging baskets brimming with lush b

Situated along a rural road about 30 miles north of Columbus, Groovy Plants Ranch is a 5-acre complex where Jared and his wife, Liz, grow and sell plants that they ship to customers around the world. It opened in 2016, but Jared began cultivating the business in his late teens while studying landscape design at Columbus State Community College and working at a Delaware County greenhouse. “I started growing succulents in my room because they’re easy to care for and propagate,” Jared says. “It was a side hustle to earn extra Smoney.”

Residents of Safe Haven Farms tend to a variety of seasonal tasks that rely on repetition and routine.

Serene acres

Tucked away in the western part of the state is an idyllic 60-acre farm, complete with chickens, horses, alpacas, and a miniature horse named Jack. The human residents here — like all farmers — tend to a wide variety of daily and seasonal tasks.

ASD is a lifelong condition that affects one in 54 people. Symptoms vary but can include trouble communicating, repeated rocking, and strong reactions to sounds, scents, or tastes. It’s common for an autism diagnosis to include other disorders, such as epilepsy, obsessive-compulsive disorder, ADHD, and bipolar disorder. Depending on the severity of someone’s symptoms, it can be difficult to hold a conversation, maintain a friendship, or keep a job. 

Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

Wooly Pig Farm Brewery

On Fridays, Wooly Pig Farm Brewery officially opens at 3 p.m., but by 2:30, friends and neighbors are already sitting down at the natural-edge wooden tables that brewmaster Kevin Ely and his family made from a prodigious el

When the farm was for sale in 2014, Jael was finishing her Ph.D. in biology at the University of Utah, and Kevin was the brewmaster and production manager at Salt Lake City’s Uinta Brewing Company. Kevin, who has a brewing science degree from the University of California–Davis, often traveled to Bavaria to obtain equipment for Uinta. While there, he also explored historic farm and village breweries in northern Bavaria’s Franconia region. Photos of Franconia that Kevin sent to Jael reminded her of Coshocton County, but the wooly pigs in the photos really caught her eye.

Castle exterior

A man and his castle

It stands to reason that a man who has made his living battling termites might choose not to build his house of wood.

With towers rising 50 feet above its hilltop foundation, Grizer Castle is the concrete manifestation of a dream that was inspired, as many are, by Hollywood. As an 8-year-old, Grizer was fascinated by the 1968 film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and his obsession with castles was launched while watching Dick Van Dyke pilot his flying car over Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle.

Guy Denny with pigeon

Life with pigeons

Most men, believing ourselves invincible at one time or another in our lives, can think back to boyhood and remember doing at least one thing so incredibly dangerous that we were lucky to survive. Consolidated Cooperative member Guy Denny is no exception.

After dark one night, he and a young buddy climbed out on the massive, metal I-beams that support the bridge. There, beneath the bridge, with cars whizzing past just a few feet overheard, his buddy shined a flashlight beam into the eyes of the mesmerized pigeons while Denny grabbed them one by one and shoved the birds into a burlap bag. The boys’ poke was nearly full when Denny reached for one last bird — a beautiful, nearly pure-white pigeon — and promptly lost his footing on the bridge.