Farm Collector Blogs > First Things

'Well, I Never!'

by Leslie McManus

Tags: expressions, creativity, resourcefulness, restoration,

It’s easy to think you’ve seen it all before … easy, that is, until you pick up the December 2009 issue of Farm Collector.

As I survey the contents, my first reaction is like that of the elderly friend I remember from childhood. On hearing something that surprised or shocked, she exclaimed, “Well, I never,” signaling both wonderment and a sudden shortage of words.

As an editor, of course, I have at my immediate disposal mass quantities of words. The bounds of my profession, however, require sparing use of them. Accordingly, things in this issue that make me say wow, a contemporary translation of “well, I never”:

1958 John Deere combine, purposefully rolling through a field of wheat, flanked by a pair of brand new models looking for all the world like bodyguards protecting a rock star. A guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do, but who had more fun that day, the guy in the vintage combine or the guys with climate control, heated mirrors and GPS?

The Delaware County (Ohio) Antique Farm Machinery Assn., which staged a complete demonstration of putting up hay from field to haymow. That kind of over-the-top effort tells the story of vintage equipment in a uniquely effective and integrated way. As show demonstrations go, this one is unusually demanding and requires a small army of truly dedicated volunteers, but the payoff is immense.

Then there are the people who think big but go small, the kind of guy who has the patience to shingle a barn roof one row at a time, and count that a good day’s work, or the guy who decides to build a 1/4-scale model of a tractor with the entire project’s engineering schematics housed only in his brain.

And there’s more: a tractor restorer who put other senses to work when vision was no longer available to him … the fact that a place like Gelli Newydd still exists … the bull blinder (hard to imagine how such a device was actually installed on an animal cantankerous enough to need it: Now there’s a YouTube video!) … and an avalanche of responses to the October What-Is-It mystery tools.

All of which brings to mind another of my elderly friend’s go-to expressions: “Have you ever seen the like?” Only in Farm Collector! Happy reading—