Apparently, there are gaps in my education. I say this because so many of you caught the mistake in our article 'Wanna buy an Earthworm?' (May 2001), that it seemed the flood of letters and e-mail would never end. Giving credit where credit is due, I have to say that Jim Welch (no relation) of Akron, Iowa, was the first to call me on it, politely. (To a person, readers found very nice ways to say I'd been a bonehead.)
In order to fill this knowledge gap, I started searching for information about Earthworm tractors and Alexander Botts. It turns out that William Hazlett Upson's character had quite a life for a fictional character. I read several of the Botts stories and even tracked down the movie Earthworm Tractors. I also discovered that a new collection of the Botts stories is being released this very month. Voyageur Press even provided us with a copy of the book's introduction, which appears on page 32, and should inform readers who didn't know before about the exploits of perhaps the only world-famous tractor salesman
I truly dislike errors finding their way into our magazine, but one of the great things about this job is that there are always new things about which I can learn. Another great thing is that our readers probably represent the single best storehouse of information about vintage farm equipment in the world.
When we write stories for Farm Collector, we speak with true subject matter experts and test that knowledge against the knowledge of other experts in the field. I won't say that that system won't ever let us down, but I trust that our readers and contributors know their stuff.
Another type of letter I've gotten recently is one that asks when we will cover items in a specific geographic region. I would say that we try to cover every area equally, but sometimes lack eyes and ears in certain parts of the country. For example, New England's vintage farm equipment is often as much as 100 years older than those we find in Kansas, but, if we don't know it's there, we can't write about it.
I would remind everyone that you can get a hold of me easily by sending e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you find any errors or, even better, have a lead on a great story near you. Our readers are the most common source of stories for our magazine and have the best idea for stories they'd like to read. Please continue to share both your gripes and your ideas.