Farm Collector Blogs > Aussie Trek Across America

July 23 to 24: Missouri

by Ron Bywaters

Tags: road trip, trek across America, tractor drive, Missouri,

Day 27

Cumber and Jeff departed this morning in their tractors for the Oshkosh (Wis.) Airshow to allow Cumber to enjoy his passion for anything aeronautical.

So we said our farewells to Cumber and Smithy, and Jeff and Wendy. We’ll catch up with them again in a few days.

George, Anne and Carolyn voted to stay behind at Vernon Bruckerhoff’s place for a day to catch up with maintenance, etc., while the rest of the group boarded the people mover for more of the wonderful Missouri hospitality. Our driver and guide for the day was Curt Bronenkant, the chap who had rescued the lost trekkers in Vienna, Ill., the other day.

First for the day was an informative visit to the Gilster-Mary Lee factory where they produce all manner of cake and soup mixes. In separate buildings on site they also produce breakfast materials and even popcorn, but our tour was just of the cakes, etc., and it was very interesting. This visit had been arranged by Russell Brandes, another club member who is employed there.

Then we met up with an extremely interesting chap named Sonny of Reiman Farms — Dick would still be there talking farming methods if we had not had a busy itinerary to follow! Curt then introduced us to Richard and Charlotte Moldenhauer and saw their amazing collection of pedal cars and memorabilia — awesome!

For a change of scenery, we went to a café for lunch named Tractors! Great food, great service and great photos, and they were happy to meet a group of crazy Aussie tractor drivers!

After seeing so many antique tractors, mostly beautifully restored and some still in their “working clothes,” it was a change to visit Davis Farm Supplies Inc. in Perryville, Mo., and see some of the new “boys’ toys.” The latest is a little beauty, the Boomer 8N from New Holland, and we would all have loved to take one home. This is the type of tractor any lady would be happy to be seen driving, small and pretty, but with a 50 hp engine, can really do the job! Jerry and his wife, Sandy, then invited us to their lovely property where Jerry has an outstanding lineup of restored tractors.

Last call of the day was to Kenny and Rhonda Buchheit’s scenic farm where the boys not only drooled over more rare machines, but also had the opportunity to throw a line into their well-stocked pond from a beautifully designed gazebo. Ron and Peter caught decent sized bass — had the obligatory photo then gave them the “Rex Hunt Kiss” and returned them to be caught another day. What a wonderful day of events — thanks to Curt who really seemed to enjoy being chauffeur for the day, and to the club members who so generously supplied the people mover which made our tours so comfortable.

The only disappointment of our visit to the Perryville area was that our correspondent over many months, Tom Ballman, was out of action and just out of hospital. He and his wife, Sharon, made only a brief appearance at Vernon’s shed and we were sorry to hear that he has returned to hospital. We thank Tom for all his help with planning our trip.

Day 28

The rain came down in bucket loads overnight, not quite on the agenda for Vernon Bruckerhoff’s big day — a Louisiana cook-out!

The sun came out early, however, and helped to dry out the puddles. Pete Firmin had driven all the way from Baton Rouge, La., to be the chef for this event and brought loads of catfish to fry and all the ingredients for his crawfish étouffée with rice.

Preparations were underway quite early and by the time visitors started to arrive at 11 a.m. there was food aplenty. Vernon’s friends Jason and Pete have loads of equipment — the crawfish were cooked in a huge cast iron gas-fired cauldron, and the catfish came out of a very large deep-fryer, also gas fired. Not only did it all smell delicious, but it tasted that way too. Soon there were chicken, scalloped potatoes and deep fried tomato slices to add to the menu and everyone sat down to a sensational meal.

To add to the festivities, this was Carolyn’s birthday and as a surprise, there was a cake complete with candles which gave away her best kept secret! After a few teary moments, Carolyn recovered sufficiently to cut the cake and helped to distribute slices to the visitors — it was quite delicious.

As the day wore on the heat tested us out — the combination of rain and high temperatures made for very high humidity. We are still being told, however, that it has not been hot yet!

Around 3:30 p.m. it was time to move from our comfortable lodging at Vernon’s property and drive into the fairgrounds at Perryville in preparation for the dinner in the evening and their big event — the 7th Annual Tractor Adventure of the River Hills Antique Tractor Club — in the morning. Some short speeches followed the chicken dinner including well-prepared three-minute talks on various farm related subjects by members of the FFA (the Future Farmers of America) for which they are to be commended. Fundraising over the weekend will go toward a purpose designed building for the youngsters. Ron was invited to say a few words about our visit and re-iterated our thanks for the warm hospitality shown to us everywhere we have traveled. An auction followed, also helping to raise funds.

Our thanks for Vernon for his kindness over our three-night stay. Also appreciation to Pete Firmin for his long journey — we have wonderful memories of the Louisiana cook-out and he is one person we will definitely not forget any time soon. He was declared an “Honorary Aussie” — we could do with some of that cooking expertise!

See photos and read more on Ron’s website,