We say it all the time. You never know how much time you have left.
Sometimes, things happen that remind you how true that is. On Sunday,June 8, one of those things happened.
Roger Brining, who happens to have the distinction of being the Barton County farmer in the cover photograph of my very first edition as editor of Kansas Farmer, died when his open-cockpit, experimental airplane crashed just north of the Great Bend airport shortly before noon.
Roger was a creative and progressive farmer, one committed to using science and technology to make the farmland he worked first with his father and then independently, more productive and profitable.
I first met him at a precision ag event in Great Bend. In the six years since then, our paths crossed often. Roger was an officer and enthusiastic contributor to the Kansas Agricultural Research and Technology Association. He was an avid supporter of no-till. In the last couple of years, he embraced cover crops and integrated grazing as methods to diversify farming and help maintain the health of the land.
He was one of the first people who ever talked to me about soil as a living organism, more than just a collection of chemicals, but a life system, dependent on living plant roots and the microorganisms that are nourished by them.
He was an Air Force veteran and an aviation enthusiast and member of the Experimental Aircraft Association. He loved introducing children to farming and to flying and his signature can be found on many a Young Eagles certificate.
In June of 2012, he rolled his little plane out of its hangar at Great Bend to give my two oldest granddaughters a ride around the traffic pattern. He let my little grandson, Lewis, “drive” his combine around the farmyard. He enthused about the advantages of using a stripper head to combine wheat and leave the most possible residue in the field.
At the KARTA annual meeting in January of 2013, he talked excitedly about the future of using drones for crop scouting, field mapping and more.
My heart goes out to the family who lost a son, a brother, a husband, a father in a sudden, horrific moment on a summer day.
I’ll miss you Roger. I promise to remember always to live each day as if it might be the last and to tell the people in my life that I love them.