Utica Shale saved the farm.
In early 2010, Ballard Jenkins and his wife, Sharon, were preparing to sell the family’s 233 acres in Carroll County’s Washington Township and 70 cows at auction to pay off creditors. It was a tough time to be a dairy farmer.
“We were dying a little day by day,” he said.
Then landmen came into Ohio, bringing with them sweet financial offers for leasing mineral rights. They represented drilling companies in search of natural gas and oil deep underground in the Utica Shale formation. What transpired dramatically changed eastern Ohio — to the benefit of the Jenkinses and, with some exceptions, many others as well.
The Jenkins family sold its dairy cows, but the farm auction was postponed to see what a shale deal might provide.
Their first offer included a one-time signing bonus of $100 per acre. Said 68-year-old Ballard Jenkins: “That got my attention.” An offer of $250 an acre was “world-changing money.”