Let's Keep the Conversation Rolling

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
After 30 years of working at DTN/The Progressive Farmer, Dan Miller has taken over the machinery beat. (DTN/The Progressive Farmer photo by Brent Warren)

If you happened to wander by this space last week, you read that my friend of many years, Jim Patrico, has retired -- he changed his work boots for house slippers. (See…)

Jim was the DTN/The Progressive Farmer's long-time machinery editor and is highly respected across the equipment industry. I can see that in all the notes of welcome I've received from his many contacts. Jim changed how we here covered this important industry. His words and photography brought machines and technology to life.

So, allow me to (re)introduce myself as I begin to get a handle on the machinery writer's duties.


I am from Illinois, born and raised. After high school, I spent three years in the U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division. The G.I. Bill took me through journalism school at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and to my first writing job at the Dixon (Illinois) Evening Telegraph. I wrote about crime, courts and government. Sort of a funny combination, when you think about it.

My wife, Kim, and I moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in 1984 where I was hired on as a brand new writer of a brand new publication, Iowa Farmer Today. Four years later, I moved over to The Progressive Farmer with an office in Iowa. I will have been here with DTN and PF for 30 years this October -- half in Iowa and half in Alabama, where I live now.

You may have heard we play football here. Roll Tide!

Our oldest son, Aaron, is married, lives in California, works as a nurse, and his wife, Joanna, is expecting our first grandchild this summer. Our other son, Alex, is to be married this December to Shelby. He's a sales rep. Shelby is working on her master's in family counseling (our family, no doubt is a rich source for her papers). Sydney, my daughter, trailers her quarter horse, Sandy Pie Cash, to barrel competitions and pays the bills by working for a local veterinarian.


My plan is to build on Jim's work.

You'll continue to find this weekly Machinery Chatter blog here. DTN Staff Reporter Russ Quinn has contributed to it for years and has graciously offered to continue in that role. I also have written in this space and will continue to do so more frequently.

We're also introducing Steve Thompson to the Machinery Chatter lineup. From Trenton, Texas, Steve has written PF's Ask the Mechanic column for longer than I can remember.

Steve's highly popular columns come with dirt on them. Help a reader run down an electrical short? Tell a reader how to fix the baler the neighbor broke? Those questions are in his zone. Steve has an easy and often humorous writing style. "Grab an adjusting tool (hammer) and whack it," he suggested in one column.

Steve runs a 1,500-acre wheat, cattle and hay operation. He also has a Ph.D. in secondary education from Texas A&M University. When he is not full-time farming, he is a full-time English professor at Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. Before his current gig, Steve ran for 10 years the John Deere technical program at Navarro, and before that, he did a stint as a contract trainer for John Deere.

You can send questions to Steve: The Progressive Farmer, Ask the Mechanic, 2204 Lakeshore Drive, Birmingham, AL 35209 or email He may actually call you with an answer!


Jim was especially good finding producers using new equipment and technology to improve their bottom lines. Real-world stories are a bit hard to find, but they are especially well read. A good idea is a good idea.

So, Russ and I will look for stories about how you're deploying new equipment and technology. I believe farmers like reading about what other farmers are doing, so we welcome your input and sharing what you're doing.


Visiting a shop is just about my favorite day. I have no more fun than getting a guided tour through the building you have dreamt about forever. I like to write about details and ideas. The best shops improve workflow, keep the equipment running and they pay for themselves in the efficiencies they bring to your farm.

New or old, big or small, the best shop is the shop that does what you need it to do in all kinds of weather. I'm not sure how the three pallets of beer I found in one shop fits into all this, but hey, if it works, it works.

I'd like to put a shop story into every issue of The Progressive Farmer, 12 times a year. I'd also like to put shop stories here -- on DTN -- at least a few times a year.

Help me make that happen. Open the doors to your shop and tell me what you have. Send a few photos, a video if you want, and let's talk. We'll write you a check for the idea if we use it.

But let's talk no matter what about the equipment and technology in your life. What works? What doesn't? What are you looking for?

Give me a call and introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you. Email or tweet me, or call 205-414-4736.

Dan Miller can be reached at

Follow Dan Miller on Twitter @DMillerPF



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