Rural Missouri - October 2010 - (Page 36)

N E I G H B O R S was the opposite. She thought you should tell people what you think. And so do I.” With his desire to represent the ichard Oswald sits on his interests of ordinary people like himold tractor and gazes toward self, Richard even ran for state reprethe Loess Hills only a few sentative twice, but lost both times. miles north of his farm. He feels the experience, while taxing, This is one spot where he finds inspiwas a good one. ration for his columns. “I think a lot of people complain “That’s where my great-greatabout government, but they won’t grandfather Enoch Scamman settled step up and do their share. They just around 1845,” says Richard. “He complain,” he says, “You’ve got to be came here from Maine and must willing to do something about it for have thought this was a good place change to happen.” to stop because he even started a In 2006, after years of writing letlittle town.” ters to newspapers, an editor with Rural folks, especially those in Progressive Farmer (now owned by Midwest farming circles, have probTelvent/DTN) asked if Richard would ably read some of Richard’s letters to consider writing a column for the the editors in numerous newspapers magazine’s Internet subscription over the years. service. And with that, Richard’s “I wrote my first letter to the edicolumn, “A View From the Cab” was tor about 30 years ago when Farmborn, where he writes about issues land Industries was still around,” related to farming and agriculture. recalls Richard. “It was about supply The following year, the editors of and demand and how it works — The Daily Yonder, an Internet-based and how it’s all the other things we source of news for rural communido to screw it up that don’t work.” ties, approached Richard about writFrom that point on, Richard was ing for their online readers, too. Richthe squeaky wheel who got to be ard agreed, and now he gets to share heard by newspapers far and wide. whatever’s on his mind. No matter Anything could end up being a topic the topic, it will somehow come back for him to write about. around to the things that matter “I do enjoy writing,” says the most to him — family, farming or the farmer, his weathered face looking beliefs America was founded upon. toward the field of corn that beckons If you ask the farmer what a few harvesting. of his favorite columns have been, While the town, Union City, is you’ll get a wide array of topics. no longer there, Enoch’s choice to “I once wrote about assuming settle in Atchison County was the end-of-life responsibilities by having beginning of his family’s love of the a living will,” says Richard, whose country life and all it represents. Farmer Richard Oswald, 60, finds an online following with his columns and opinion experience with his parents inspired “I’m a fifth-generation farmer,” pieces. His work was nominated for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for online commentary. the topic. says Richard, 60. “Nearly half of the Often, readers get a taste of Rich2,200-plus acres we operate on today ard’s sense of humor in his articles. was Scamman land. That’s a good “I wrote about farm Olympics feeling.” once,” says Richard, smiling. “It’s Richard’s dad, Ralph, farmed some about how there’s more than one of those same acres for decades, way to compete. Even sports-mindthrough the Depression as well as ed, uncoordinated farmers like me the years when the corn grew tall do pretty athletic things like manure and produced 100 bushels an acre. jumping, pig wrestling and the highBy the time Richard was 10, his dad wire balancing of the books.” decided to quit farming and go to This year, The Daily Yonder ediwork in town for an ag supply busitors nominated Richard’s online ness. At age 17, Richard had been commentary for a Pulitzer Prize. He didn’t win, what he was getting into.” running the family farm for three years. And after • Langdon but Richard is happy the publishers thought Together with his son, the sixth graduating from high school, he knew just what enough of his columns to nominate him. generation farmer in the family, he wanted to do with his life. Richard says he probably makes more Richard raises crops such as corn, “I didn’t want to go to college. I wanted to get money writing columns now than he did soybeans, cattle and hay. The duo uses married, have a family and farm, right here,” says the first 10 years or so Linda and he modern technology, including GPSthe Atchison-Holt Electric Cooperative member. were married. guided planters and sprayers. They also “Dad showed me his books to try and convince “By today’s standards, that’s not use the technology to measure fields me not to go into farming, but it’s what I wanted.” much money,” he says. “But it’s nice and record crop yields from their comMarried in 1968, Richard and his wife, Linda, to sit down and do something and bine. Richard uses the Internet to manlive in the farmhouse where he was born and have people think enough of it that they’ll actually age sales, track supplies and communicate with raised in Langdon. Of their three grown children, pay you for it.” anyone who’ll read his thoughts. son Brandon chose the same route as his dad, Over the years, Richard’s family has grown used farming for a living — a rare career choice for Read Richard’s columns at to his opinion pieces, but not everyone thought he young people these days. author/richard-oswald. You may contact Richard via should be as blunt with his thoughts. “Brandon pulled me aside one day before he e-mail at or by writing him a good “Dad thought I went out on a limb sometimes graduated high school and said he wanted to get old-fashioned letter at 15593 Rd 245, Langdon, MO by saying exactly what I thought,” says the farmer, married, stay here and farm with me,” says Rich64446. who considers himself a populist. “My mother ard. “I didn’t try to talk him out of it — he knew by Heather Berry R My thoughts exactly Atchison County farmer Richard Oswald shares his view of the world online 36 RURAL MISSOURI

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2010

Rural Missouri - October 2010
Good Times on the Berryman
Elk in Missouri?
Mail Bag
Right-of-Way Management
Out of the Way Eats
Live Like a Viking
Two Men and a Cave
Hearth and Home
News Briefs
Paddlin' for a Cure
Get in Touch with Ghosts
Around Missouri

Rural Missouri - October 2010