Hay Day: Collecting Hay Tools

Nebraska man preserves farm practices of the past in his museum devoted to hay tools.

| July 2016

Nearly everything about Doug de Shazer’s Lewis & Clark Pulley Museum in Crofton, Nebraska, is old. That includes the reclaimed barn and forest fire lumber Doug has used to create the museum’s look and feel of the hip-roofed barns that once dotted the American countryside.

From floor to ceiling, walls hold rare and intriguing track, carriers, pulleys, barn door hangers and hay-related memorabilia that made farm work easier and more efficient in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Included in the collection are 300 hay carriers representing about 60 manufacturers and more than 100 brands. More than 500 pulleys, dozens of hayforks and countless items used by farmers to move hay into and around the barn make up the rest of the collection. Although the collection spans the years from about 1840 to 1940, the majority of the pieces date to 1870 through 1910.

Collection builds momentum fast

Development of the museum has been Doug’s dream since he began collecting hay items in June 2005. “My friend, Barb, and I were walking through a flea market that day,” he says, “when I spotted a vendor who had several barn pulleys for sale. I pawed over them for several minutes while Barb watched me. After a bit, I set them down and walked away.”

About an hour later, Barb, who’d briefly disappeared, presented him with a very heavy bag. “She said, ‘Happy Father’s Day,’ and I opened the bag to find all the pulleys I’d inspected were now in my possession,” Doug says. “I couldn’t believe it!”

The purchase sparked Doug’s three-day acquisition of “every pulley in sight” at the flea market. He came home with at least 20 pieces, eager to show off his treasures.

“When I showed my friend what I bought, he walked over to a box and pulled out several pulleys and an odd apparatus I’d never seen before,” de Shazer says. “After a little research, I learned the strange-looking item was a hay carrier used in a barn hayloft. A few days later, when I was junking through antique shops, I found another hay carrier and thought, ‘Huh! They made two of these things.’ That was the beginning of what is now a building full of items.”


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