This week I would like to stray a bit from my normal topics of farm and home and address a topic that all of us need to consider… our investments. Investments are important not only to the wealthy and affluent but to anyone, especially of our time.

The investments that I am speaking of aren’t financial in nature, although those investments are certainly necessary and far too few of us pay enough attention to them. No, today I am thinking more of the investments we each make in our communities and in ourselves.

As many of you know, my family lost one of our beloved dogs last week and, as hard as that was, it was also a great blessing as friends and neighbors offered sympathies and prayers for us. We will get a new puppy to take his place but our friends… now there is a possession that can never be treasured enough.

Over the past decade (yes, it has been that long), I have had the pleasure of serving this county as the ag and natural resources extension agent. It was during this time that Lindy White invited Bo, Ty and me to join the team at Smyth County Community Hospital as part of their pet therapy visitation.

Since late August 2012, Bo, Ty and I made a weekly visit plus special holiday and requested drop-ins over 400 times. People would ask, “How do you find the time to do that?” It is a reasonable question given that a good extension agent is really “on-call 24/7.” The answer is pretty simple really. A visit to the hospital generally only lasts an hour, and since I don’t drink beer or play golf, we have plenty of time.

Being part of a visitation team does require some discipline and commitment. I remind those who ask me about training and certifying therapy dogs that the one thing no program provides is… a driver’s license. The best trained and best-behaved dogs still need someone to transport them to the facility, so really the deciding factor is not the dog, but rather the person.

Here is where the investment comes in. Bo Dawg is and will be greatly missed. If you were to leave this world, would others miss you? The answer should be a resounding yes, because living isn’t just about showing up and getting all you can for as little effort as possible. To truly live is to get out there, take chances, fail, cry, laugh, have some fun, and make a difference. In short, invest in Smyth County by being a vital part of the answer, not a problem “pointer-outer!” Share anything you have… short of a virus or bacterial infection!

Over the years I have grown to appreciate that through words and, more importantly, through deeds in life, the greatest title that a person can hold in this world is one that others bestow upon you… the title of “friend.”

Friendship is something that is not won by a campaign or bought with lavish gifts. Friendship is a gift freely and willfully given. I miss my friend. I look forward to seeing him again and giving him a gentle hug, but I also know that there are many people in this world who need a friend. These past few days, I have been blessed to be the friend of many who reached out with sympathy and love.

While this past week was filled to the brim with sadness, sad times are also a good time to find out if you have invested wisely in friendships. Friendships require that we not only have friends but that we be one too. Yes, I think my family and I have invested wisely.

Upcoming Events

Nov. 1 -- Deadline to Consign Calves to December VQA Sale.

Nov. 6 -- VQA Sale, Tri State Livestock Market, 7 p.m.

Nov. 11 -- VQA Steer Take Up, Tri-State.                              

Nov. 13 -- VQA Heifer Take Up, Tri State.

Nov. 18 -- Smyth County Farm Management/Private Pesticide Recertification Meeting, 6 p.m., Farm Bureau Building in Marion.

Nov. 20 -- Pesticide Recertification, 8:30 a.m., Smyth County Extension Office.

Dec. 4 -- VQA Sale, Tri State Livestock Market, 7 p.m.

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Dr. Andy Overbay is Smyth County’s agriculture and natural resources extension agent.

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