DECATUR, Ill. (DTN) -- Want a pep talk about agriculture, talk to Ashley Andersen. The farm girl, now farmer and farm wife, has an infectious love for the life she lives with her family near Blair, Nebraska.
It's not that there aren't challenges. While the Andersen farm has escaped most of the flooding that has bedeviled this region, they have one farm that remains a muddy mess. Like much of farm country, they've watched the calendar days click by as planting has been delayed.
Still, being part of a farm that has endured for 125 years in the same location brings a tenacious dedication that instills a long view. This is the profession she and her husband, Jarett, fell in love with and chose at a very young age. Now, with three young children of their own, they farm alongside Jarett's parents, Tim and Kim Andersen.
DTN readers will get a chance to share in the experiences at the Andersen Farm throughout the 2019 crop season as part of DTN's View From the Cab series. For the past 15 years, DTN has featured two farms from different regions of the country -- highlighting the weekly details as the farmers move through the season.
Also reporting as part of the series will be Scott Wallis from Princeton, Indiana. He also represents a multi-generational farming operation. You can find the report on his operation here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…
Here's a glimpse of what Ashley and the rest of the Andersen family will be reporting on this year and what's happening now in east-central Nebraska:
ANDERSEN FARM -- BLAIR, NEBRASKA
DTN readers might recognize the Andersen family from a 2018 article about how the family is traversing the challenges of transition and succession. When Tim Andersen's parents, Merle and Mardelle Andersen, died five months apart in 2017, the farming family suddenly faced the need to buy out off-farm heirs. You can read that article here: https://www.dtnpf.com/…
Tim and Jarett have also been involved in the DTN Customer Advisory Board program and were on the DTN Power Users panel at the 2018 Ag Summit in Chicago. They received the Nebraska Pioneer Farm Award in 2018 as recognition of the 125 years the family has consecutively held ownership of their land.
The two Andersen families are currently raising 2,250 acres of corn and soybeans near Blair, about 30 miles north and west of Omaha. The farm has been completely no-till for three decades. The land is almost all dryland with the exception of one river bottom farm that is irrigated.
The biggest challenge in this region is erosion. Beyond no-till, there are miles and miles of terraces. "We do everything we can to minimize erosion, but it's still a problem," said Jarett.
The family also has a commercial trucking business on the side. They don't employ drivers as a rule, but prefer to do their own hauling.
"Basically, we don't truck during the spring and fall, unless it's an emergency where someone really needs a truck," Jarett explains. "We run the greater Midwest, but have run eastern, western and southern United States. We have hauled cattle from Mississippi and Alabama back to Nebraska. And we did the 'fall run' out of Montana back to Nebraska. Dad and I both have step decks that we basically stay in the Midwest with. We pretty much can haul anything anywhere," he said.
Ashley grew up on a row-crop and beef farm about 15 miles north of Schuyler, Nebraska. She and Jarett met in 2008. "We couldn't wait for life to begin. Jarett was barely 20 and most of our conversations were about how he wanted to buy a cattle pot [potbelly truck], start farming on a large scale and keep the family farm going for generations," she recalled.
The young couple's dream is up and growing. They welcomed their third child in June 2018, and this year they purchased their first tract of land.
This time of year, Ashley keeps busy running meals to the fields and doing the "running." The importance of keeping fuel in the labor force may not be the most obvious job on the farm, but she understands the importance.
"Jarett has been teasing that he's going to buy me a food truck. It's not unusual for me to drop off a meal to a neighboring farmer, or two, as well.
"I absolutely love doing it," she added. "And, I've got this meals to the field thing down." Bet on at least one View From the Cab segment being about how she pulls field lunches off with children clinging to her side.
During harvest, Ashley spends most of her time running the auger cart, while her mother-in-law (and Jarett's mother), drives the straight truck.
HEADS ABOVE WATER
With so much disaster flowing around them this spring, the family feels lucky to have only one farm damaged by flooding. Ironically, it's a 350-acre farm that they rented for the first time in 2019.
Removing piles of cornstalks and washed-up trees only goes so far. At least a portion of that farm is questionable for planting this year, Ashley said. The good news is the family has been able to get down most of the pre-emergence herbicides and has been able to take advantage of the weather window to plant soybeans.
"We were even needing a little shot of rain again at one point," Ashley said.
That seems hard to fathom as fundraisers and volunteer efforts continue in surrounding communities to help neighboring farmers try to get above water. One doesn't have to go far to find perspective this year, Ashley observed.
Telling the story of what farmers go through to bring food to the table is one reason she volunteered for this project. "We work hard for what we have. We work hard to keep our land producing, while keeping it productive for future generations.
"We want to share the information we have about what farming is really about, and we also enjoy talking to other farmers, hearing their stories and sharing knowledge.
"Family farm isn't just a saying around here," she added. "It's something we live on a day-to-day basis. My husband and I are a team. We are more than blessed that I am able to stay home raising our kids. He works hard to make sure our kids are raised in the best environment on the farm. We believe those values and work ethic can never be replaced," Ashley said.
Editor's Note: Watch for a combined report from Andersen and Wallis Farms each Wednesday throughout the 2019 growing season.
Pamela Smith can be reached at Pamela.firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN
Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.