Years ago, when I was the editor of a rural weekly newspaper, I had a friend who kindly suggested that at least half of the newspaper’s circulation was made up by people who wanted nothing more than to find out what the editor didn’t know at any given time.
That wry wisdom came to mind as I worked with a list of what felt like 20,000 names of people who correctly identified a mystery tool from the June 2014 issue. When I first added it to the What Is It mix, it somehow never occurred to me that a small, simple cream separator might once have been as common on the farm as a shovel or a shed.
Sadly that is just the start of it. You could fill a book with the things I don’t know. While working on this issue alone, for instance, I learned all kinds of stuff. At a show in Tulare, California, in April, I learned about the days when every farm in the area had a small dairy. Excellent displays of dairy collectibles brought that time and place to life for me.
The beef tri-tip: another thing I didn’t know about. A sort of triangular roast from the bottom of the sirloin, it is a California specialty. Grilled and sliced onsite at the Tulare show, it makes a dandy sandwich.
Until we began work on this issue, I didn’t know that a length of limber cane could be used to persuade workhorses driving a hay press to lead themselves. I didn’t know about the connection between Adriance, Platt & Co. and Moline Plow Co. ... or that Myers & Bros. was in the sprayer business as well as hay equipment...or the difference between a wet clutch and a dry clutch...or the patent protection that spelled sweet success for the inventor of an early wind stacker ... or the deliberate installation of an outhouse door (designed always to swing out, not in).