Hay Carrier Collection Out of the Ashes

A Michigan man’s hay carrier collection was launched by a barn fire.

| May 2018

Oddly enough, it was a fire that launched Emil Hecksel’s collection of farm-related memorabilia. Emil, who lives in Coopersville, Michigan, has been collecting farm-related memorabilia for more than 40 years. His collection of hay carriers (or trolleys) began after a barn owned by his cousins, John and Dean Hecksel, burned down in 2008.

After the fire was put out, Emil was among the relatives and neighbors who helped clean up the mess. He found some pulleys in the rubble and was told to take them if he wanted them. Some had metal spools; others had wooden ones that were partially, or completely, burned away. 

The next day, a Louden Junior hay carrier was found. Emil’s cousins didn’t want it, but they also didn’t want to see it tossed into the dumpster. Emil wanted to prevent this bit of history from being lost, so he took it home. That was his first hay carrier. “I was on my way,” he says. Today his collection numbers 67 carriers.

A hay carrier with special ties

Soon after the fire, Emil remembered a carrier that had long hung in a barn on the farm where he’d grown up. About 30 years earlier, in 1977, the place had been sold.

Emil contacted the current owners of the farm and asked if they would sell the hay carrier to him, only to be told they’d have to think about it. A year passed before he contacted the owners again. That time, they would not sell it to him, they said, but since he’d grown up on the farm, they felt it should be his: It was his for the taking.

Emil and his son-in-law, Jeremy DeBoer, took scaffolding to the barn and set to work, rescuing the hay carrier from the peak of the roof. They needed more height, so more scaffolding was borrowed and erected. The operation took more than seven hours, but the work paid off. At the end of the day, Emil had his dad’s old Hudson carrier, with a length of rope still in it, and a section of track. 

4/15/2018 9:48:47 AM

What a wonderful surprise to open the latest issue of Farm Collector and find this article about our neighbor. While we always enjoy the magazine, this article makes this issue extra special. The Cusicks