Production Blog

This View From the Cab

Each week Scott Wallis and Ashley Andersen reported on current field conditions and life on the farm. (DTN photos by Pamela Smith and Nick Scalise)

DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- The view from the cab this year was muddy. It was also dusty, hot and finally, cold and snow covered.

The view from the cab this year showed that no matter how much we think we can control what happens on the farm, there are bigger forces at work.

Since 2005, DTN has selected two farmers to report in from their respective regions as part of a weekly feature we call "View From the Cab."

It is not a project for the shy or impatient -- as Ashley Andersen, of Blair, Nebraska, and Scott Wallis, of Princeton, Indiana, learned.

From May through mid-November, I called these two farmers every Monday. By Wednesday, the world was reading about their troubles, triumphs and yes, sometimes even their dirty laundry. There's not a farmer in the world that doesn't understand how valuable a washing machine is to daily farm life. When Ashley Andersen's washing machine quit a few weeks, we wrote about it.

We also wrote about hopes and dreams shared by two multi-generational families and how hard and rewarding those relationships can be.

Our articles covered a near miss traffic accident. We battled thistle caterpillars. We wondered whether beans planted in July was crazy talk. We scouted fields and took yield estimates.

We talked about the importance of volunteering in the local neighborhood and home-cooked meals and yes ... even date night with the spouse.

I've had the honor of writing this column for the past two years and it's hard to put into words how I feel about these folks. Journalists are supposed to stay impartial and for the most part, I believe I kept on that side of the fence. But you don't write 27 articles with two individuals without learning about what is in their minds and what weighs on hearts.

Ashley Andersen noted at one point how much she enjoyed having someone to talk to who understands farming. Scott Wallis told me his wife was grateful for the series because she thought maybe our discussions helped temper his attitude when things got tough this year. And yes, things got tough this year.

This season our farmers endured long hours and no easy button. These farmers talked to me between beeps in the combine cab and while waiting in the school pickup line. They proofed copy and answered additional questions when I'm sure they had other things to do.

And, by the way, this is a volunteer project -- there's no payment involved. Still, both farmers said they would do it again. It was a way to reach out to other farmers -- a way to communicate and vet their thoughts. Finally, they said it provided them a reminder of what agriculture, farming and family mean to them and why they do the job.

Here's the interesting thing, it was a reminder for me too. A chance to talk to farmers every week and learn what they are doing day to day. It just doesn't get much better than that for an agricultural journalist. Thank you.

Drop me a note at pamela.smith@dtn.comif you'd like to be considered as a View From the Cab participant for 2020. Tell us a bit about your operation and why you'd like to have a reporter as your shadow during the upcoming crop season.

Our previous View From the Cab farmers include:

2019: Ashley Andersen, Blair, Nebraska; Scott Wallis, Princeton, Indiana

2018: Kyle Krier, Claflin, Kansas; Genny Haun, Kenton, Ohio

2017: Zack Rendel, Miami, Oklahoma; Brent and Lisa Judisch, Cedar Falls, Iowa

2016: Chase Brown, Warrensburg, Illinois; Jim Hoover, Newport, Pennsylvania

2015: Lane Robinson, Cromwell, Indiana; Leon Kriesel, Gurley, Nebraska

2014: Karen and Bill Johnson, Avoca, Iowa; Jamie Harris, Madison, Florida

2013: William "Shep" Sheppard, Louisiana, Missouri; Kane Bercaw, Union City, Michigan

2012: Katie Sanger Hancock, Water Valley, Kentucky; Ryan Brodersen, Randolph, Nebraska

2011: Tom Tibbits, Minneapolis, Kansas; David Brandt, Carroll, Ohio

2010: Becton Bell, Wilson, Arkansas; Frank Zweber, Hoven, South Dakota

2009: Marcus Hess, Bushnell, Illinois; Matt Wolle, St. James, Minnesota

2008: Dan Pedersen, Underwood, Iowa; Brad Lindstrom, Varna, Illinois

2007: Matt Rush, Fairfield, Illinois; Jason Heijl, Abbott, Texas

2006: Bob Worth, Lake Benton, Minnesota; Keith Miller, Great Bend, Kansas

2005: Richard Oswald, Langdon, Missouri; Mark Rasumssen, Hoagland, Montana.

Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN



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