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Antique Iron for Winter Months

by Leslie McManus

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If you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, this is the time of year that tests character. “Winter is not a season,” American writer Sinclair Lewis observed decades ago. “It’s an occupation.” It is easy to feel beleaguered in February.

As a service to Farm Collector readers in northerly climes, it was the editor’s intention to produce our first-ever Hawaiian Islands issue this month. Packed with in-depth articles on antique iron in cane and pineapple fields, it would have showcased a little-known corner of the old iron hobby and been a much needed balm for those weary of cold and snow. Such a project would, naturally, have required extensive time in the field, marked by long days spent conducting interviews and photo shoots, but that is an editor’s lot and whining doesn’t get the job done any faster, now does it?

Regrettably, management did not share my enthusiasm for the project, at least to the extent that actual travel was involved. “See what you can find online,” the boss growled. Suffice to say that the view out my office window today shows not palm trees but a blanket of snow.

And so it is that in this issue of Farm Collector we delve into vintage jeeps that laugh at snow. Freelance writer Clell Ballard digs in deep, capturing the role played by the jeep when the snow flies in the Idaho backcountry. More workhorse than pleasure palace, the early jeep offered little protection from the elements. Back in the day, as Clell notes, that was just the way things were.

Want more? Throw another log on the fire and then check out Sam Moore’s column on the perils of winter travel 180 years ago. An account of an after-dark crossing of a river presumed to be frozen, in the midst of a howling blizzard, makes a jaunt in an unheated jeep seem like a day at the beach … almost.

Had enough? Take heart. Spring’s coming. With writer Jerry Schleicher’s help, we revisit check-row planting in this issue. Short of Hawaiian breezes, that’s about as good an antidote to winter as I know!  FC