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By: MATT ADAMS
In roughly two years of working for the Hardin County Extension Service, I have written about many things in this column. From drought, to insects, to disease, to flood, one would think I have just about covered it all by now.
But there is one of the most important aspects of Hardin County agriculture I have not written about, and that is people. The farmers, agribusiness men and women, teachers and community leaders involved in agriculture make this industry what it is in our county.
Two weeks ago, the Hardin County agricultural community lost one of those vital leaders with the death of Pat Owsley in a tragic farm accident.
Pat was known to many as a farmer, but also was a strong community leader, Sunday school teacher, Vacation Bible School leader, role model to many, including myself, and most of all one of, if not the, nicest guys I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
It has been said in the last couple of weeks Pat was a mentor to many young farmers and he certainly has been to me. Pat always had a way of finding the “silver lining” in every situation, and you always could find refuge in talking with Pat when things weren’t going so well on the farm. He had been around in good times and in bad, and because of his love for agriculture, had stuck through it all to continue to do what he loved.
My personal experiences with Pat began in my early years in high school. Some of my high school buddies and myself have stripped a few hundred thousand pounds of tobacco across the county in our younger years, and Pat’s always was a crop we looked forward to working in.
We usually would get to the barn shortly after school was over to find a pile of “booked” tobacco outside the stripping room Pat had put there at some point during the day. Usually at some point in the evening, Pat would come through that stripping room door with a big smile on his face and a grocery bag full of snack cakes in his hand. He would stick around for a few minutes and talk and laugh with us, usually about how things were going on the farm or how things worked when their state-of-the-art dairy operation was up and running in the past. After a few minutes of conversation, he would ask if we needed anything else, and out the door he would go, off to feed his cows.
Later on, if I ever saw Pat out somewhere, he would make a point to come over to me and ask how things were going, and we would talk about what was happening on his farm at the time. This was a major inspiration and source of mentorship for a young, beginning agriculturalist such as myself. When I began working for extension, I had the opportunity to serve on the Hardin County Farm Bureau board with Pat, and his mentorship continued there. After every meeting, I would find myself having a conversation with Pat, no matter how late in the night it was, for at least a few minutes before going home. After the last Farm Bureau Board meeting last week, I found myself lost once the meeting adjourned, not knowing what to do without Pat there to talk to.
Pat truly was an inspiration to us all. People like Pat are the reason most of us are involved in agriculture today and he will be greatly missed. As Pat watches the remainder of this fall’s harvest from heaven, I think he would urge us all to slow down, enjoy it, and find that “silver lining” in every situation we face this fall.
Matt Adams is a Hardin County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.