Down on the Farm


By Doug Bush,
Tygart Valley District Supervisor

In December of 1799, after a ride around Mount Vernon on a cold wet day, George Washington awoke to complain of not feeling well. A common medical practice of bloodletting would be performed multiple times in an attempt to heal him. Bloodletting, a medical procedure where some blood is drained from the body, was thought to help remove the toxins in the body. It is estimated that as much as forty percent of George Washington’s blood was removed in an attempt to save his life. Most believe President Washington had contracted pneumonia after a day of riding in the cold wet weather of December. Did the bloodletting cause his death? This medical treatment surely didn’t help and most likely hastened his death.

Medical science has advanced since the time of George Washington. With research, testing, and education, doctors have improved treatments for ailments and diseases. The medical profession is not the only profession where we need to change the way we have done things in the past. In my profession of education, teachers are constantly learning to use improved instructional techniques and innovative ideas to reach their students. Those teachers that use the same lesson plans year after year have classes that are mundane and lack interest.

Age in many cases can influence our willingness to learn and change. Age allows us to learn from our success and failures, but age also can close our eyes to learning improved techniques and ideas. Those who are young are more willing to accept new ideas, but lack the experience of the older. I see this in farming. The most successful farms are those that have an older mentor and a younger partner working side by side. The old farmer showing the ways of past and the younger farmer introducing to the farm new innovative techniques. Of course, the older farmer has to be willing to accept new ideas, make changes, and goals can be met.

The Tygart Valley Soil District’s job is to promote learning. We constantly are creating opportunities for farmers to see and hear about successes, challenges, and even failures of other farmers. One of these opportunities is coming to Camp Pioneer in Randolph County, September 21 from 10 a.m. to 1p.m. It is our first Fall Family Field Day. Specialists will be there to talk about topics like high tunnels, controlled grazing, evasive species, rain simulation and composting. We will have learning stations for the young and interesting things for all ages. A free lunch will be provided. The only requirement is to RSVP by September 13 by calling 304-457-3026, everyone is welcome.