Co-op People

Pumpkin variety

Smashing pumpkins

For only the fourth time in its more than century-long history, there will be no Circleville Pumpkin Show this year — yet another scheduling casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

No one is more disappointed than Jack Pine. 

Born in rural Tarlton in southern Ohio, Pine began studying glass-blowing decades ago in Seattle, Washington, and says he’s still perfecting the process to this day at his studio in Laurelville, where he’s a member of South Central Power Company. “I knew I was in love with glass-blowing from the start, as it involves everything I enjoy as an artist,” Pine says. “It’s a mystical medium, and I was drawn to it immediately. You take a glob of hot, molten glass from the furnace and turn it into a gorgeous work of art — that initial experience was magical to me and continues to be.” 

Tom Graham with pigs

YouTube sensations

The sign posted outside the biosecure barn where Tom Graham raises some 2,400 pigs at a time says “NO ENTRY.” Nonetheless, Graham has given tours of his wean-to-finish operation at Oaklawn Farm to hundreds of children in grades K–12. How does he do it?

“We used to bring in busloads of kids, but after we got a biosecure barn, there wasn’t much they could see,” says Graham. He built the facility in 2004 in order to raise gilts and barrows on a contractual basis for Johnstown-based Heimerl Farms. The arrangement not only frees Graham from worries about market fluctuations but also furnishes income that has helped his close-knit family remain on their farm. “I always tell people my wife teaches at Zanesville High School so I can keep farming,” he says with a grin. 

Man holding puppy

Training K-9

Al Gill believes well-trained German shepherds can mean the difference between life and death in many law enforcement situations.

The property is now home to a world-class training facility as well as housing units for male and female officers who come from across the country to participate in academy classes. There is also a kennel that can accommodate 60 adult dogs as part of the business’ breeding operation.

Indian Creek Distillery

American spirits

On a splendid day in May when bright sunshine bathes Ohio and seems to portend progress against the coronavirus, Missy Duer arranges bottles of whiskey in the antique-laden tasting room at Indian Creek Distillery.

“This farm has always been the hub of my family’s life,” says Missy. “I grew up two minutes away and loved coming here as a girl. Now my grandchildren represent the farm’s eighth generation of Staleys, and they love it, too.” 

Roger Trump with airplane

Crop duster

Roger Trump, owner of Trump Aviation Inc. in rural Darke County, expects to be busy this year doing his part to support agriculture from high above farm fields.

“Some people mistakenly think flying across the sky and then swooping down over fields to deliver the payload is romantic or glamorous,” he says. “It’s grueling work, and the most important part is bringing the plane home in one piece. There is never an end to routine maintenance.”

Chris Hart

Tales from the Hart

Chris Hart dons a frock coat and sports a fancy walking stick as he prepares to portray John George Nicolay for the residents of StoryPoint Grove City, a senior living complex in suburban Columbus.

Today’s performance is “Mr. Lincoln’s White House,” a vignette set in 1900 that Hart scripted, featuring himself as Nicolay, Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary. Nicolay pays a visit to President McKinley and relates what 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue was like years before, during Lincoln’s tenure. As Hart enters the room where he’ll perform, StoryPoint residents greet him like groupies with smiles, handshakes, and fond words about his monthly presentations.

E. Lucy Braun

Woods woman

I have a recurring daydream where I try to imagine what it must have been like to see the Ohio country hundreds of years ago, long before European settlement.

Large apex predators once lived here, too: mountain lions and wolf packs preying upon myriad white-tailed deer and elk. Ohio even had buffalo herds (I’ll write more about those later this year).