May we all bend with time


“Change is the inevitable part of life,’ he said

Grandfather’s ninety years spoke from his final bed.


“‘Now tell me, Grandson, since my time is due,

If you will hold the land faithfully and true’

Then I took his hand and told him all I planned.

Now when I visit where he lies in dust, I say this prayer:

God grant that I will keep his trust

To understand the lesson his life taught —

To bend with time but still maintain the right”

— Ray L. Johnston, Memories from the Dust. Vantage Press, 2002

At this time of year, our office is filled with preparation for the upcoming year with lots of meetings and planning sessions to get events and programs lined up and ready to go. The hardest part is trying to figure out what topics we feel need to be covered to make the biggest impact toward the improvement of our natural resources.

This task, at times, can be challenging and takes lots of brainstorming and many different viewpoints to come to a consensus on how best to achieve this.

The same can be said for planning for each producer’s operation. As a farmer myself, I often pull some of the aspects of our planning from what I hope to get accomplished at my operation. The problem is that I tend to overlook some aspects that can use improvement.

I’m not sure if it is because I’m stuck in my ways more than I realize, or if I just overlook them because I see them every day — but I know sometimes a fresh set of eyes is what it takes to point out an issue before I address it.

One thing that I often notice about the attendees at the workshops and events that our office hosts is that there are few of them under age 40. While this is not entirely a bad thing (the adage “We are never too old to learn” fits nicely here), I wonder if the next generation of producers are being consulted about the way in which an operation is being managed.

In an industry where the average farm operator is 56.8 years old, this next generation will be crucial in the coming years.

Are the ideas of these young people being incorporated into the way the operation is run or are they being brushed aside?

Many times, we do the things that we do just because they are how we have always done them, not necessarily because they are the best way.

The technology and techniques used in agriculture are always changing. Everything we do should be flexible to allow for the best information to drive the way in which we run our operations.

If you are a farmer whose next generation has an idea you are not sure about, consider trying it out. Whether it succeeds or fails, you will be there to cheer them on or to help understand why it didn’t work.

One day, it will be the operation of your children and many generations to come.

We can as the late, great Ray Johnston wrote “bend with time but still maintain the right.”


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Stuart Heavilin is the agriculture and natural resources technician for Harrison Soil and Water Conservation District. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a bachelor of science in agriculture. He can be reached by calling 740-942-8837 or by email at



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